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October 11, 2001

Leander Paes


Q. Did the draw turn out the way you wanted?

CAPTAIN KRISHNAN: Well, with the new format there's not much mystery as far as the draw is concerned. From our point of view, I think it helps that Harsh knows what time he's going to go on as opposed to waiting around for his match. Leander has been through this situation many times so that won't do him any harm. We'll have to look at it that way.

Q. Are you surprised Todd is not playing?

CAPTAIN KRISHNAN: No, we knew the second spot was between Todd and James Blake. Weren't surprised either way, I guess -- some of us felt that Todd would play; others felt James Blake. I don't think it was a major surprise there.

Q. Does it make you happy or does it not matter?

CAPTAIN KRISHNAN: Frankly I haven't seen much of James Blake. I have seen Todd Martin play. I know he has been doing very well lately but it doesn't change our perspective.

Q. Can you talk about James Blake?

LEANDER PAES: I saw James play over the summer in America and he's a very talented player. He has got some big shots. Actually watched him play Pat Rafter in Cincinnati. Being a serve and volleyer myself, that was one of the matches that I wanted to watch knowing that he would possibly be one of the players in this Davis Cup tie, so got a bit of info on him there. But at the end of the day it comes out to who performs better tomorrow. That's what Davis Cup is all about. Interestingly it's his first tie so that's something that coming into the tie I am looking to take a bit of an advantage there. But on saying that, he has got a lot of singles matches under his belt this year too.

Q. You mentioned you are a serve and volleyer. How does this court suit you?

LEANDER PAES: It's not that fast a court. The court, it's medium-paced. I would say it is a touch slower than the US Open so as far as serve and volley go I have got to try and mix it up tomorrow rather than keep on serve and volleying. I think the real task for me tomorrow is to come in and get good rhythm as far as my serve and volley goes in singles. I have played a fair amount of doubles matches this year, but a few singles matches, so I think that's more of my concentration in terms of getting my rhythm as fast into that match as I can.

Q. Playing three matches back-to-back can't get any tougher than that, playing second tomorrow; then a doubles or --

LEANDER PAES: I love it. I can't get enough of it. I love playing Davis Cup having done it for a few years playing all three matches, I really look at it with a lot of pride and I have a lot of fun, so I enjoy it.

Q. Can you talk about what's happened in this country playing the United States at this time; your thoughts about what is happening in the Middle East at this time; your thoughts on playing the US?

LEANDER PAES: It's an honor to be here representing India in Davis Cup match. Especially in times like this it is nice to show that ties are going on and that life is back to normal in America. On saying that, I am sure all the boys on our team, we all have a lot of respect and compassion to a lot of the fire fighters as well as the NYPD in New York with the way they selflessly put their lives at risk and came forward to help out. As far as I am concerned as a player, this tie is for all of those men out there that put their lives forward to help all the people that were in the buildings at that time.

Q. Talk about your match tomorrow, what are your expectations there?

HARSH MANKAD: Probably going to be one of the toughest matches that I have played so far. But at the same time I think it will be a good experience for me. I have seen a bit of him on TV. I have rarely seen him play live. I think I will just go into the match and see how it goes from there. I mean, for me I am going to try to play the best I can and play within my limitations and then see how it goes from there.

Q. Obviously a lot of, I mean, this team is depending on you pretty heavily and you have the experience and I am -- you are playing somebody who is brand new really to Davis Cup. Do you think that you really -- that this is to your advantage the fact that you have got an advantage, James Blake is brand new. Talk about the expectations your team has?

LEANDER PAES: It is a good question. It is a double-edged sword. I am coming into the tie with a lot more Davis Cup experience. But on saying that he had had a lot more singles matches this year. That's why I was mentioning that my concentration in tomorrow's match is to get into the rhythm of my singles again. Once I do that I am looking to try to take my Cup experience and carry me through the rest of the game. On saying that, James has got the home crowd behind him. He's playing in his home country so hence, that's going to be a big advantage for him versus if he was playing in India. But on saying, that I am going to put my best foot forward. I am going to take it to him and make him come up with the goods.

Q. Talk about that Cup experience how big -- how big is it? You are going against a guy who was a practice partner....

LEANDER PAES: James is a fantastic tennis player. He has got a lot of talent playing with a lot of confidence as we saw through the summer playing in America, so I am not so certain as to how much of an effect that's going to be on him. I guess you will find out tomorrow. On saying that as far as I am concerned, I have had a few Cup outings this year and that has been in Asia and we have always come up against the hurdle as the playoff matches to get back into the World Group, so as a consequence goes, we look to try and jump that hurdle to try get back into the World Group. Rest assured we put our best foot forward.

Q. Is this going to be like the winner of Saturday's match is going to be the best doubles team of the year?

MAHESH BHUPATHI: (LAUGHS) Are you discounting Bjorkman and Woodbridge?

Q. Yes. (Inaudible.)

MAHESH BHUPATHI: Both of us have had very good years and, you know, it's going to be depending on how the matches come out tomorrow - very high pressured situation, so, you know, we all get along very well, so I think we are just going to play for bragging rights.

Q. Considering the patriotism that has been cropping up here in America the last four weeks, do you expect the crowd to be even more behind the team than they usually would be and if so, how will that affect you?

CAPTAIN KRISHNAN: Not necessarily. We have played in US before and also compared to other countries that we have beat too. France comes to mind that we played and Brazil before, so I would expect the crowd to be enthusiastic, but in no way unfair to us.

End of FastScripts....

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