With Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi agreeing to work together in the upcoming Davis Cup match against Uzbekistan, former Indian tennis captain Naresh Kumar feels that the “Mahabharata” was over.
Terming the duo’s long-standing differences as ‘Mahabharata’, the mythological epic, Kumar said: “It is good that the Mahabharata is over.
“Whether they are really at peace or not, I cannot say. But it is a good sign if they are going to come together,” the 78-year-old said at the Dakshin Kalikata Sansad Sports Complex today.
“If they can get together it will be better for us. The news of their fight a few years ago was not nice. Let us hope that with Bhupathi coming back in Indian Davis Cup team, there is reconciliation.”
India take on Uzbekistan in the second round match of Group 1 Asia/Oceania next month in Bangalore with Bhupathi as the non-playing captain for the squad featuring Paes.
The AITA selection committee has named four singles players — Ramkumar Ramanathan, Yuki Bhambri, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and N Sriram Balaji — and two doubles players — Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes — in the six-member squad which will be pruned to four by Bhupathi.
Paes may be 43 but the 1996 Olympic bronze medallist still has it in him to win matches, Kumar said.
“It is a very difficult to answer when he would retire. But if you watch closely Leander’s doubles or mixed doubles matches, he is the one winning the crucial points. You have to have that confidence and the panache to be still doing that. The other boys maybe better players, but on the crucial occasion this fellow is putting his neck forward. So that is his greatest quality,” said Kumar.
Kumar also hailed Swiss great Roger Federer who at 35 won his 18th Grand Slam by lifting Australian Open with a five-setter win over Rafael Nadal.
“The secret is his backhand. And you know how that backhand came? Because most of his opponents were attacking his backhand all the time and with practice his backhand became strong. I think he has balance and balance is the essence of life. Otherwise it is not easy to win a Grand Slam at the age of 35.
“It’s difficult to call anyone the greatest. The greatest can only be assessed with the surroundings one has. I think he is so far the greatest player,” he signed off.