Looking at the future,national selectors today drafted three singles specialists in Somdev Devvarman,Yuki Bhambri and Sanam Singh in the Indian Davis Cup squad and effectively ended Mahesh Bhupathi’s India-career by ignoring him for the upcoming tie against Indonesia.
Leander Paes,the highest-ranked at number 8,was the only doubles specialist in the team as the selectors continued to ignore Bhupathi (10) and Rohan Bopanna (12).
Paes is likely to be paired with Sanam,who won Guangzhou Asian Games doubles gold medal with Somdev.
The selection committee also named Vijayant Malik and N Sriram Balaji as reserves while Ram Kumar Ramnathan and Arjun Kadhe were also picked for practice.
S P Misra was retained as non-playing captain but the Indonesia tie will be his last.
Somdev had led a players’ revolt demanding better playing conditions,making themselves unavailable for the Korea tie,which India lost 1-4.
The rebellion ended partially when AITA agreed to most of the players’ demands and players made themselves available for selection for the Indonesia tie in Bangalore from April 5-7.
Bhupathi has publicly said that 2013 would be his last playing year and barring a catastrophic result it would also be India’s last Davis Cup tie of the year,hence Bhupathi may not get a chance to represent the country again.
The selectors reasoned that it made sense in picking three singles players because if there are only two singles players and one of them picks up an injury the doubles player was forced to play singles.
“We are trying to focus on three singles players. And all three (selected) players are good doubles players as well. Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna are also good doubles players but Leander Paes is highest ranked,” AITA Secretary General Bharat Oza said.
Asked if it ends Bhupathi’s India career,Oza told PTI that it was not the case. “We are not saying this. We will see when we have the next tie.”
Asked if Bhupathi can be given a farewell tie considering his long service for the country,Oza did not commit anything.
“Bhupathi is such a popular player. What benefit would he get out of a farewell tie,” he asked.
Despite players’ reservations,Misra was retained but AITA made it clear that Asia/Oceania Zone Group I relegation play-off first round tie to be held from April 5-7,would be his last.
“The decision to select the captain and the support staff is vested with the Executive Committee. Captain is selected for a term so cannot be removed before it ends,” Oza said.
When pointed out that AITA had said that Misra will be honoured and given a befitting farewell,Oza said,”People deduced that Korea tie would be his last. We had said that he will be honoured. Since it is like back-to-back ties,we wanted to continue with him.”
However,Oza clarified that since Misra had offered to resign in the wake of controversy,they have “agreed” on that and his replacement would be discussed.
AITA also hoped that the players would not object to Misra’s presence for one last tie and “come forward for the national duty.”
AITA had removed Dr Vece Paes on the insistence of players but the new doctor,whose services were availed,was not efficient enough to handle injury exigencies during the Korea tie,which India lost 1-4 .
AITA said Dr Paes’ services and role would be sought in future.
“We have noted that point,seized of the matter. The deficiencies were brought out and have to be addressed. We would like to have experienced and good hands. We think Dr Paes should be behind the team. He will help in selecting the physios,who understand tennis injuries,” Oza said.
The chairman of selection committee Anil Dhyuar also clarified that Vishnu Vardhan was considered for reserve but since he is injured,other were selected.