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Olympics is different ball game, says Paes

Onkar Singh | August 27, 2004 19:17 IST

Tennis ace Leander Paes says playing in the Olympic Games is different from Grand Slam tournaments. 

Speaking on Doordarshan's sports channel, the Atlanta Olympics bronze medallist said he and partner Mahesh Bhupathi are disappointed at missing out on a medal at the Athens Games despite putting in a lot of hard work.

"If you ask me if it is different to participate in the Olympics, I would say 'yes'. The whole ambience is different. You are representing your country and playing for the prestige of your nation and your flag. But in Grand Slam tournaments you are playing more as a professional, which sometimes you win and sometimes you lose," he said.

Asked if he regrets being unable to return with a medal from Athens, Paes admitted that indeed felt bad when he and Bhupathi lost the bronze medal doubles match.

"I remember when I won the bronze medal in the Olympic Games there was tremendous public response from the people; there were grand receptions. But this time these scenes will be missing," he said.

Asked what does one have to look while choosing a doubles partner, he said one has to look out for someone who can cover up the weakness of his partner.

"A partner should be one whose plus points become your strength and your strength covers up his weaknesses. You are living together, playing together and sharing the joys and sorrows. You share the family problems as well," he said.

Talking about his experiences with Martina Navratilova as doubles partner, he said the Czech-born US citizen is a legend who has been playing competitive tennis for almost three decades, something few players in the world will be able to do

"She is a tremendous player. A true champion."

Offering a piece of advice to up-and-coming Indian junior Sania Mirza, Paes said India has much better tennis-playing facilities now than when he was a kid.

"All kinds of courts clay, grass and hard courts are now in India and you can play and practice on them. She [Sania] has to work hard to establish herself."

Complete coverage of India's campaign | Athens 2004

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