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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Paes wants medal icing on Olympic cake

Beijing: Not many can boast of competing in five Olympics but tennis ace Leander Paes is still not content with the feat and desperately seeks a medal to put icing on the cake.

"It feels just great to think that I'm here to compete in my fifth Olympic Games. It's incredible. Surely winning a medal would make it even more memorable for me," the doubles specialist said here on Thursday.

Having already tasted Olympic glory - he won the singles bronze in 1996 Atlanta Olympics - Paes is hungry for more and said he was peaking at the right time. "I won the bronze in Atlanta and I now I want a double. I'm peaking at the right time as well. I did not have a great start to the season but things gradually started falling in place and last five weeks have been really satisfying, something obvious from my rankings," Paes said after the Indian flag was raised in the Olympic Village.

Paes will partner Mahesh Bhupathi and the seventh seeded Indians will kick off their campaign on Sunday against the French pair of Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon. "At this level, you have to take every match seriously. You just cannot afford to lower the guard. Every day would be tough battle," he said.

Once they clear the hurdle, the 'Indian Express' pair would run into Czech duo of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek. Interestingly, Stepanek has partnered both Paes and Bhupathi in the past on the ATP Tour.

"It would be a tough match against the Czechs, especially because Stepanek knows our strength and weaknesses. But we too know a few things about him. In fact we won a title at Delray Beach (US) together. So I'm looking forward to an intense fight," Paes said.

"Overall, I feel we have decent chance in the tournament. Whenever I come to Olympics, I feel young and happy. My coach Ric Leech has done a wonderful job and I'm feeling I'm in perfect shape for the event. I'm fit and just raring to go," said the Davis Cup captain, oozing verve.

Paes said twice, including in 2004, he came close to winning doubles medals only to fail at the final hurdle and he wants to prove third time lucky. "The defeat in Athens still hurts. It rankles me to think that we lost the match when we were just two match points away from the medal. I want to right the wrong here," said Paes.

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