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Bhupathi hails rise of Rohan, Prakash, Harsh

April 14, 2004 17:36 IST

Doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi expects young guns Rohan Bopanna, Prakash Amritraj and Harsh Mankad to carry the torch for India after he and Leander Paes leave the scene.

"Rohan and Prakash play good standard of doubles. Leander and myself will play as long as our legs can take us. But after that we are going to look at these two boys to carry the torch in singles and doubles and, hopefully, by then Harsh also," Bhupathi told reporters in Bangalore on Wednesday.

"We (currently) have a good mix. Indian tennis never had the luxury of having so many youngsters on the threshold. It is for the first time in Indian tennis that we do have the potential and very, very, very solid doubles team (himself and Paes) and one of the very best players in Davis Cup in Leander. The future is looking very good," he said.

Bhupathi said the Indian tennis team is currently in a "unique position" in the sense that it was the players who are calling the shots and they don't have "people 20 years older who don't know what's going on in today's tennis and what the needs are".

"Playing captain Leader is mature enough to take advice from all the senior players and we are calling the shots. It's very good," he said.

On India's shock defeat to Japan in the second round of the Asia-Oceania Zone Group 1 in Osaka, Bhupathi said the Japanese did the right thing. "They put in the hard work and they deserved to win. Gouichi Motomura probably played the best match of his life against Leander."

Bhupathi, however, asserted that India have the potential to get back into the World Group.

India's next Davis Cup tie is ten months away.

"We have specifics to work on, particularly fitness. Leander and myself are pretty solid in doubles. We have to find a way to get two singles points. That is essential to get into the World Group. It is looking good. It is a matter of time before these kids mature and put in hard work."

Asked about Prakash Amritraj, Bhupathi said he has the potential and all the shots and it is just a matter of putting them together and finding a way to win.

He said Bopanna, Amritraj and Mankad would have lot of things to work on as they are in the region of 200 to 300 in the world rankings.

He also ruled out playing singles again, saying, "You guys keep asking the same question every month. I retired (from singles) in 1999. I don't play anymore. I am not trained for it (singles). I am not going to throw myself in the ring. I know I will injure myself."

Bhupathi reiterated that he would team up with Paes in doubles at the Olympics later this year and preparations for it is likely to begin a month before the start of the mega event.

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