Who will replace Leander Paes? Indian captain Zeeshan Ali answers

Rishabh Gupta
|Published 17/08/2018

Indian tennis team captain Zeeshan Ali provides information on who will replace Leander Paes, while criticising the Indian tennis star.

Leander Paes withdrew from the Asian Games 2018 yesterday, citing issues on clarity over doubles partner. India’s tennis team captain, Zeeshan Ali has stated that his absence is a major blow to India’s chances in men’s and mixed doubles event.

Ali further said that he tried to convince the Indian tennis star into joining the team in Palembang, but Paes decided against it.

“It is obviously very disappointing to not to have Leander. It is a big blow to us,” Ali said, as quoted by the PTI.

“But then again he is a complete professional. It is his decision completely and his patriotism for the country cannot be questioned.

“Having said that, Paes needed to be here irrespective of whoever he was going to play with as he volunteered to represent the country,” Zeeshan Ali said.

The Indian captain, however, insisted that his focus is solely on reworking on the doubles pairing for the Asian Games.

“I think it makes a big a difference to us in the mixed doubles. Who would play with Rohan and Leander could have been decided only once he came. Now it is a different team we would be looking at.

“But I have to forget that he is not coming and focus on rearranging doubles team, my mixed doubles team. There is no doubt that we will be missing Leander with all his experience in guiding the youngsters on court.”

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“So it is going back to the drawing board. We are trying to work the combinations out so, see which style suits which pair. I am definitely going by rankings as far as the combinations are concerned. Since we don’t have time, it doesn’t give us much room for experimentation,” Ali said.

The captain, while acknowledging Leander Paes’ will to opt out, criticised his timing in announcing the decision.

“The only thing I am feeling bad right now is, if he had decided earlier to not come even two weeks or 10 days ago, we would have got a specialist doubles team in place.

“We have five doubles players in the top-100 (Bopanna, Sharan, Paes, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Purav Raja. Even N Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan have been doing extremely well. The only thing I am upset about is that we won’t be able to field a second specialist doubles team,” Ali stated.

However, Ali insisted that Divij Sharan is most likely to replace Leander Paes in the mixed doubles. “The tough bit is that everyone’s playing styles are different. Most likely Divij will replace Paes in the mixed doubles,” Ali concluded.

About the author
Rishabh Gupta

Rishabh Gupta

A sports enthusiast. Sports, I believe, is one of the few powers which help us grow, both as an individual and society. With each day, in the rich world of sports, I grow.

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