New Delhi, Apr 12: Hailing his doubles partner, Leander Paes said he was happy to be back playing with Mahesh Bhupathi and is eagerly awaiting the World Group play-offs scheduled for September after India beat Japan in the Asia/Oceania Group I second round match here today.
''Playing with Mahesh again was a fabulous experience. We found the rhythm and communication going,'' a satisfied Paes told mediapersons after he along with Bhupathi defeated Japanese duo of Takao Suzuki and Satoshi Iwabuchi 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.''I am now looking forward to September and it will be interesting to see where we play - whether at home or some where else - in the World Group play-offs,'' he added. The recent months have been very tough for Indian tennis with issues of players' revolt against Paes creating controversies.
The 34-year-old Paes added that after the resilience showed by Japan in singles yesterday, he expected a much better show in doubles too by their counterparts.
''It was a fairly convincing win for us. There was a little bit of drama in the second set but we came back well to win the match in four sets.
''We expected them to come out with more fire and with better serves,'' Paes conceded.
However, Bhupathi too, seemed satisfied with the win and played down the controversy which had been cooking up ever since the two parted their ways.
''We are happy to have played well to win today and do not want to comment on something that we don't want to answer.
On today's match he said, ''we lost the second set and it was important to make a comeback and I am happy that we did it to win the match,'' said a relaxed looking Bhupathi.
The 33-year old Bhupathi, however, said there the feeling to team up with Paes were as normal as ever.
''I found it very normal. We have played for a long time with or without each other,'' he added.
Meanwhile a disappointed Japanese coach Eiji Takeuchi said he did not expect to see such results before the tie and would look to make it 2-3. He also added that it is always difficult to play against seasoned campaigners like Paes and Bhupathi.
''We should have won the third set but unfortunately we couldn't.
Now I want the scenario to be 2-3 for us tomorrow.
''Leander and Mahesh played to attack us. Leander always plays tricky volley and hat is what he showed today as well,'' Takeuchi said.
With two reverse singles to be played tomorrow, Paes cautioned his Japanese counterparts that Rohan Bopanna and Prakash Amritraj will not give anything away and would look to seal the tie 5-0.
''Prakash and Rohan have had two great games yesterday and I am sure they will come out all guns blazing. Both of them will have some matches with no pressure but we will not be complacent about it,'' Paes said.