Kolkata: Indian tennis icon Leander Paes is pained by the relegation of the country’s Davis Cup team and feels it will take a “better half of a decade” to lift the standard.

The Indian Davis Cup team was relegated to World Group 2 for the first time after a 2-3 loss to Denmark in their away fixture earlier this month.

“I feel like it’s going to take a few years, until the Davis Cup team has some serious talent in it,” said the player with a record 45 doubles victories in Davis Cup.

Indian tennis’ decline was apparent during the Australian Open last month when, for the first time since 2017, no player from the country could make the cut to compete in the qualification round of a Grand Slam.

“I feel quite saddened in a way that we don’t have one player in the singles ranking in the top-300. I don’t think that’s ever happened,” said the Olympic bronze medallist.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran is currently the highest-ranked Indian in singles at 306 on the ATP list.

“I’ve tremendous respect for all our Indian players who are travelling on the circuit in a sport like tennis where the cost of training and conducting (making a) the career is so expensive.” “In tennis, where 99 per cent of the sport is played outside the country, being alone on the circuit is not easy. Zeeshan (Ali) and I have slept in locker rooms because we didn’t have money to pay for a hotel.

“That being said, I think it’s going to take a better half of a decade for the Davis Cup team to have that quality like we had when Ramesh Krishnan, Zeeshan Ali, Vijay Amritraj and all of us had… To get to the semi-finals in the Davis Cup is tougher now,” he said.

Leander was addressing the media sitting beside his father Dr Vece Paes, a bronze medallist at the 1971 hockey World Cup in Barcelona, and the Munich Olympics in 1972.

PTI

Leander Paes laments state of Indian Davis Cup, says will take a decade to lift standard added by on
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