Naresh Kumar: 'Paes and Bhupathi’s reconciliation is a good sign'

Former India captain and Davis Cupper Naresh Kumar feels Indian tennis will gain a lot with Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi agreeing to work together once again.

With Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi agreeing to work together once again, Indian tennis is expected to gain a lot.   -  AFP

 

Former India captain and Davis Cupper Naresh Kumar feels Indian tennis will gain a lot with Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi agreeing to work together once again. Kumar, who is one of the oldest tennis legends of the country, said that it was nice to see the two players agreeing to a truce after the “Mahabharata” of differences.

“If they (Paes and Bhupathi) can get together it will be better for us. The news of their fight a few years ago was not nice. Let us hope that with Bhupathi coming back in Indian Davis Cup team, there is reconciliation. It is good that the Mahabharata is over,” Naresh Kumar said here at the DKS Sports Complex on Thursday. “Whether they are really at peace or not, I cannot say. But it is a good sign if they are going to come together,” he added.

Naresh Kumar, the non-playing captain, with the victorious Indian Davis Cup team at the Senayan Stadium in Jakarta in 1992. (From left) Enrico Piperno (coach), Gaurav Natekar, Leander Paes, Kumar, Ramesh Krishnan and Zeeshan Ali.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

 

When posed with the question on how long Paes can continue playing, Kumar said the 1996 Olympic Bronze medallist still has the class to win crucial points. “It is a very difficult question. If you watch closely Leander's doubles or mixed doubles matches, he is the one winning the crucial points. You have to have that confidence and the panache to be still doing that. The other boys maybe better players, but on the crucial occasion this fellow is putting his neck forward. So that is his greatest quality,” Kumar sided with Paes’ decision to continue playing.

The 88-year-old former tennis star, who played both in Wimbledon and at the Roland Garros, said Indian tennis can grow only if there is enough funds to help the new breed of Indian players go out and try the international circuits. “We have opted out of the British system and now are gaining a lot from the American Collegiate system now. This is a good development but our young players need enough money to keep playing in the European and the American circuits,” he said.

Kumar had special words of appreciation in the way the Swiss star, Roger Federer, made a comeback to win the Australian Open. “The secret is his backhand. And you know how that backhand came? Because most of his opponents were attacking his backhand all the time and with practice his backhand became strong. I think he has balance and balance is the essence of life. Otherwise it is not easy to win a Grand Slam at the age of 35,” he said.

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