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‘Our priority is to win a gold in CWG'

CHENNAI: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi accomplished on Saturday what they have been doing for a long time now for India: getting the country out of a hard place.

Their straight-set win over the Brazilian pair of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares kept India in with a chance going into the reverse singles on Sunday.

The pair's effortless cruise in the doubles also gave rise to the usual sounds of lament by fans and journalists, on what might have been had the pair decided to stick with each other on the ATP Tour.

“The best thing is that we have grown to respect each other and what we have accomplished, both as individuals and as a team. I have always considered Hesh (Bhupathi) to be a thorough champion,” said Paes.

Bhupathi echoed the same sentiment. “The bottom line is that we have won tournaments with each other as well as with others. We might have won 15-20 Slams each; you never know, but I prefer to live in the present. We are both in a happy place now. Both of us have set goals. Our priority is to win a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi,” he said.

As preparation for the Games, the pair has decided to compete in a Tour event in Bangkok. On partnering Paes in the Davis Cup, Bhupathi said, “We've played so much together that even after a gap all it takes to find rhythm are a few practice games, which we usually get before the tie.”

Their job done, but with India trailing 1-2 in the tie, Paes said he hadn't lost hope entirely.

“A part of our responsibility is to ensure the doubles points. That's our main job and I'm happy we've kept the tie alive. The first match will be crucial on Saturday. If Somdev wins it, anything can happen.” — Principal Correspondent

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