Olympic tennis captain Misra has high hopes from players

July 14th, 2012 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Davis Cup Hyderabad, July 14 (IANS) Shiv Prakash Misra, the team leader-cum-captain of Indian tennis team for the London Olympics, believes that the players would put behind the recent bickering over pairing and would give good results at the mega event.

The veteran, whose appointment is expected to have soothing effect after all the acrimony, told IANS that he sees good prospects for India in men’s doubles and mixed doubles.

The 72-year-old gentleman-sportsperson, who commands respect among the players, made it clear that he wouldn’t take sides and would do everything possible to make them comfortable so that they play to their potential.

“I think that (controversy) is all over now. The time is the healing factor and whatever has happened before, I don’t think that is going to come in the way. They are professional players and they know what is required of them,” said the soft-spoken Hyderabadi.

“Once they get on the court, I don’t think these tensions play. They do have their problems before but once they get on the court even if it is Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes playing, they play to their full potential. That is what I have seen in Davis Cup matches when they played under me during last four years.”

Misra, who played the Davis Cup 1969-70 and who is also on the selection panel of the All India Tennis Association, doesn’t believe that his appointment as the team leader came at a bad time. “I don’t think so at all, because the players are professional. They are matured players.”

How challenging is your task in the light of what happened over the last few weeks?

“I don’t see much problem in that. There was a bit of controversy at the time of selection, but then I know all the players very well. I don’t take sides. My job is to make them as comfortable as possible, make them at ease and see that when matches come they play to their potential,” said Misra.

“In the Olympics and Asian Games where the team has to be selected by the Federation, I don’t think that players should dictate the terms. That was one small niggling problem. Of course, you always have the ego problems between the players who perform at the highest level. Mahesh and Leander, I think, they hold about 26 Grand Slam titles, there is bound to be some friction sometimes.”

He finds best prospects in the men’s doubles where Mahesh and Bopanna are to play and in the mixed doubles where Leander will pair up with Sania Mirza.

On Sania’s outburst over her pairing with Leander, Misra said: “Players shouldn’t be bothered when the federation is going to decide the team, who is going to play with whom. Naturally, Sania prefers to play with Mahesh because they have performed well but in the end he (Leander) is no mean player. He is the best doubles player we have and think they will definitely make a good pair.”

Are the players mentally geared up?

“Yes, they are looking forward to this. Now that Mahesh has got the partner of his choice in Rohan.”

“In Jagadeesan Vishnuvardhan, I don’t think Leander has the partner of his choice. Vishnu has not played at this level at all. He has been playing Futures and winning there. So it is going to be a great experience for him to play at the Olympics.”

For Somdev Devvarman, Misra says, the biggest challenge will be to play well despite lack of match practice.

“After surgery to his shoulder, Somdev has not played any competition and that is going to be a negative factor. And as far as his court preference goes, I don’t think he likes to play on grass. He is comfortable only on hard courts. So it is going to be very tough for him.”

On Rushmi Chakravarti, who will be playing women’s doubles with Sania, Misra said Rashmi is past her prime. “I don’t think she is playing as good as she was playing before. But because of injury concern I don’t think there was anybody else to partner Sania after she got the wild card.”

Misra says he is delighted and honoured to be leading the team to the Olympics for the first time.

“It is a great honour to be the team leader and captain. This time the country is represented by seven players and this is a big achievement. I know it is hard work, having the Davis Cup experience, it is more than keeping the team united.”

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