Paes in high spirits ahead of Davis Cup battle

Mumbai, Sep 16 (IANS) Having arrived here early on wednesday, Indian tennis ace Leander Paes was in high spirits ahead of the Davis Cup play-off against the Czech Republic.

Paes claimed the 17th Grand Slam title of his career when he won the US Open mixed doubles title with Martina Hingis last week. The Indo-Swiss duo also became the first team since 1969 to win three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles in the same season.

Paes’ next challenge will be a tough Davis Cup battle against the top seeded Czechs which starts at the RK Khanna Stadium in New Delhi on Friday. The 42-year-old is expected to be part of the Indian doubles team along with Rohan Bopanna.

“This year’s been a phenomenal year for me. Any year when you win one Grand Slam is a brilliant year, but winning three is great. I feel very very blessed,” Paes told reports on arrival.

“Really looking forward to being on the court with Rohan (Bopanna) again. We played a great tie against Serbia last September,” he added.

Paes will be up against his former partner Radek Stepanek and is looking forward to facing the Czech veteran in the doubles.

“I am playing against one of my brothers, Radek Stepanek. He is not only a great tennis player but also a great ambassador to the game. He is one of my closest buddies. Really looking forward to welcoming him here,” he said.

Paes had missed India’s previous Davis Cup encounter against New Zealand in the Group 1 Asia/Oceania second round.

Besides Paes and Bopanna, the Indian squad comprises Yuki Bhambri and Somdev Devvarman who are expected to compete in the singles.

The World No.1 Czechs are not expected to face too much difficulty against the hosts. They have never lost to India in their three meetings so far. The winner of the tie will compete in the Davis Cup World Group next year.

The Czech Republic have won the Davis Cup in 2012 and 2013 and once as Czechoslovakia in 1980.

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