Pune: Amidst growing rumours about the New Zealand tie being his last, India's veteran tennis player Leander Paes gave ample indications that he will not announce his Davis Cup retirement stating that "opinion of other people never bothered him".
"Whether I get another chance to play for the country in Davis Cup (does not matter). Whatever people have to say it is their opinion. Whenever I am called for national duty, I will be ready," Paes told reporters when asked whether it will be his swansong while playing for the flag.
That the talks from various AITA sources has not gone down well was proved when he said: "If I had to listen to what people say, do you think I would have won even one Grand Slam? Because no one ever believed I would win it."
"If I had listened to them, I would not have played Davis Cup. Those people believed I wouldn't be a Davis Cup player," he retorted, when questioned about his age on the sidelines of his training session.
"I have never worried about people's opinion. I am so lucky that I have gone through all this and still what I have achieved. Now I don't have to prove anything to anybody. I play because I love the game. I am here because I love the lifestyle it gives me. I am so happy that I am a tennis player."
"And to be able to say this after years of hard work, it is a real bonus. That itself makes me happy," he explained.
Paes said that Yuki Bhambri is a key player for the country given his record against the Kiwis.
"Yuki has had good outings against them (New Zealand in Christchurch. Yuki is in the team is big advantage. He is key to India's chances. Yuki is in the team after injury lay-off."
On Ramkumar Ramanathan's chances, Paes said, "Ramkumar is in very unique position. We were in a very tough situation in Chennai Open and we lost which shattered his confidence. Yet he is standing out here.
"Shoulders back, chin up, he is working hard. I am very proud of Ram. He has put so much of hard work in his game. All of us are allowed to have an off day."
Asked whether Saketh Myneni, going by his past fitness record, would be able to play on all three days of the contest, Paes said: "Saketh played a great doubles match with me against Olympic gold medallists during the tie (World Group Play-Off) against Spain (in New Delhi). He is fine though it is captain's (Anand Amritraj) call... whether to start him fresh in the doubles or make him play singles.
"I was very encouraged with the way he played. I like that spirit. Our captain has got his hands full since Saketh is carrying couple of injury issues. Only the best should get selected to win the job."
Updated Date: Feb 01, 2017 23:16 PM