Paes: 'Myneni is a natural leader'

Leander Paes said he'd like to play more matches with Saketh Myneni. "He has impressed me a lot with his serve and returns. He is a good and natural leader. If you give us another few matches, we could have a good partnership here," Paes said of Myneni.

leander paes, saketh myneni, davis cup, india, spain, tennis

Leander Paes (background) and Saketh Myneni battled hard against Olympic champions Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez.   -  AP

A Davis Cup tie is regarded more than a competition between a group of players. There is a nationalistic fervour that enwraps the teams, especially the one playing at home.

But in the World Group playoff between India and Spain, it was the latter who exhibited perfect camaraderie, team spirit and fun. The support from the sidelines; the intensity and passion in winning for the country has been evident in the Spanish camp.

“This is a very united team, they are all good friends and it is always good to have your teammates with you. That should be the way, no, when you are here you should be with your team,” said Spain's non-playing captain Conchita Martinez after the visitor beat the Indians 5-0.

It wasn’t the case with the Indians, though, as captain Anand Amritraj did not turn up. Even 19-year-old Sumit Nagal, who struggled to breathe in the third set against Marc in the fourth rubber, and Ramkumar Ramanathan who lost to David Ferrer in the fifth, came alone.

“My captain told me I was fit enough for three sets so fitness was not an issue. Maybe it was just a case of nerves,” Nagal said, highlighting the vast gap in fitness between the two sides. Marc had partnered Rafael Nadal for the four-set doubles win on Saturday night that sealed the tie.

The Spanish spirit was on display after the doubles win with the entire team delighted in putting Spain back in the World Group.

“We are happy with the victory and happy to be back in the World Group. That is where we think a team like Spain has to be, with lots of players in top 100. Today we are back, that’s the most important thing. The team here and all the players who are not here and their contribution to the team is most important,” Nadal said.

“Feliciano (Lopez) has a great serve and Nadal has a great game but the key to success is their friendship and trust and the playing together,” he said Marc.

Leander Paes heaped praise on Saketh Myneni. "He has impressed me a lot with his serve and returns. He is a good and natural leader. If you give us another few matches, we could have a good partnership here,” Paes said.

Myneni himself made his priorities clear, saying he would like to play singles “as long as the body permits but I love the offer he gave me,” the 28-year old quipped.

There may still be time for that as Paes ruled out retiring anytime soon. “India, I am not retiring, I still have a record to chase,” he declared. Paes is tied for maximum doubles wins in Davis Cup (42) with Italian Nicola Pietrangeli.