New Delhi: India's star tennis player Leander Paes has advised his rookie teammates to stay relaxed against South Korea in the Group 1 Asia/Oceania Davis Cup tie starting here on Friday.
Paes on Thursday asked the players to keep more than one game-plan so that they can quickly switch over to a more profitable approach. "It is all about staying relaxed and holding your nerves. Have more than one game-plan - A, B or C. If A fails then quickly switch to B, don't wait for too long," said Paes at the R.K. Khanna Tennis Stadium Complex here.
Paes, who will partner Purav Raja in the doubles, said in his 24 years of Davis Cup career he has never bothered about results and his aim always has been to give his best. "In 24 years of my Davis Cup career I have never thought about results. In fact I have lost more matches than I have won. I always believed in giving my best for the country," he said.
Asked if he is facing the toughest tie of his career, Paes said: "Not exactly. I think the Davis Cup tie against France in Frejus in 1993 was the toughest. Surprisingly Ramesh Krishnan lost the singles and I was playing the crucial fourth rubber. I looked at myself in the mirror in the locker room and said 'this is it'. It was a great French team, they were among the top-10 in the world and had top players like Henri Leconte, Rodolphe Gilbert, Arnaud Boetsch. I won the match against Boetsch to make it 2-2 and Ramesh won the deciding fifth rubber."
Paes said during the upset win over France, he always concentrated on his game plan. "No one gave us a chance in that match. When I went out, my focus was always on bringing out my best game. I brought out my top game when it mattered the most. I had a lot of self-belief. I feel with self-belief and hard work anything can be achieved by the youngsters," said Paes.
On the doubles game, Paes said: "In the doubles, the Koreans look really good. They look to work points. Purav is a fabulous doubles player. It is interesting that we are playing together for the first time. It will be a challenge how we gel on this surface. Rallies will be a bit longer and we know they are serve-and-volley players. It will be our game against theirs."
Paes said the second string Indian team has a point to prove. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) had to select a depleted side after some top players, led by Somdev Devvarman, made themselves unavailable for national duty over their differences with the association. "There is always a point to prove. The responsibilities are large. I have always believed that playing for the country is not the everything but the only thing in the world," he said.
Purav said he was honoured to play with Paes in a crucial tie. "I have played five-setters before and physically I am in a great shape. I will be partnering one of the best doubles player in the world and it is a great honour," he said.