Bangalore: Leander Paes has emphasised that it was team unity as much as individual performances that helped India take an unbeatable 3-0 lead over Indonesia in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group I relegation playoff here Saturday, and that India had the potential to not only return to World Group but also go all the way.
Speaking to the media after he and debutant Sanam Singh clinched the doubles tie to give India a 3-0 lead, Paes, playing with his 94th men's doubles partner in 23 years, said: "It is all about team unity that helped us through here. Somdev [Devvarman] gave us a good start and Yuki [Bhambri] put us 2-0 ahead yesterday and Sanam and I finished the tie."
As if to reward Sanam, team captain Shiv Prakash Misra announced that the youngster would play the first reverse singles on Sunday, replacing Devvarman while Bhambri will play the second singles. Sunday's matches are inconsequential in the context of the tie.
Paes heaped praise on the 25-year old Sanam who he opined could blossom into a top doubles player and also complimented him for helping him through in the third set when the Indonesians broke the veteran's serve.
"I have played with so many partners that it is about adapting. This was his (Sanam's) first match and mine was 50th. But I thought Sanam played a great match. In the third set, I was a bit down after dropping my serve but Sanam helped me through the situation. It was twilight and I fluffed a couple of overheads and we made few other errors but from 4-4, we went for it and closed the tie. I quite liked Sanam's down-the-line winner on matchpoint," said Paes.
Sanam said it was a great experience playing alongside Paes and though he was a bit nervous initially, he gained in confidence once he hit a few winners in the first set.
"It was a great experience to play with Leander. I was a bit nervous initially but after I got a couple of good returns, it gave me confidence and I started to play more freely as the match progressed," he said.