India’s tennis campaign at the Asian Games appears to be falling apart even before the start as a cloud of doubt is now hanging over Rohan Bopanna’s participation since the top doubles player is keen to salvage his 2014 pro season by playing on the ATP Tour instead of competing in Incheon.
It has been learnt that Bopanna, who last year became world number three in the ATP doubles rankings, is not happy with his 2014 run and wants to make amends by winning matches on the demanding Tour in the remainder of the season.
If Bopanna decides to opt out of the Indian squad, it will be the country’s second big loss as top singles player Somdev Devvarman has already pulled out of the event due to same reason.
“Rohan is in the same boat as Somdev, only in doubles. I am not sure yet if he will be with us at the Asian Games,” Anand Amritraj, captain of India’s Asian Games and Davis Cup squads, told PTI.
It has been learnt that Bopanna, who has played a pivotal role along with Somdev in India’s good show in the Davis Cup in the last few years, had a chat with Amritraj on Wednesday about his participation and is still undecided.
Amritraj, who is a respected figure in the Indian tennis circle, reasoned that the players should not be portrayed as bad boys if they decide to concentrate on their individual careers.
“All of them are very good boys who have to sometimes make tough decisions based on their career and livelihood. That’s what is happening here,” the 62-year-old said.
After re-uniting with Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi, Bopanna is coping with a flurry of failures this season, in which they have managed to win only one title – the ATP 500 event in Dubai.
They ended runners-up in ATP 250 events in France and Sydney but the fact is that Bopanna started the year as number number 13 and is now placed almost on the edge of the top-30 at number 29.
Bopanna and Qureshi struggled at the Grand Slam level and the failed US Open campaign, where they crashed out in the first round, had the Indian thinking. They suffered second-round exits at Rolland Garros and Wimbledon and making third round at Australian Open was their best show at Majors.
Meanwhile, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who is the third-highest ranked singles player in the country at number 293 after Somdev (143) and Yuki Bhambri (151), has put his hand up to play in Incheon.
“If given a chance, I want to compete for India in the Asian Games,” the southpaw told PTI from his home city Chennai.
Asked why he was not interested in improving his ranking further like other players, the 25-year-old said, “I can understand Somdev’s decision to pursue his profession ranking and break the top-100 for a third time. This is just my third year on the circuit after my graduation and at this juncture of my career, I can’t see any higher commitment than having an opportunity to represent my country.”
When Amritraj was asked if it was challenging for him to keep the squad together, he said as far as Davis Cup is concerned there is no problem.
“I have no problem keeping the squad together. The main reason we have done so well this year is because the team is very united and has great chemistry. All the boys have played their best in Davis Cup and I hope that is enough to pull off a win against Serbia.”
Amritraj also defended Somdev’s decision.
“He will be with the team next week for the tie against Serbia. But right now he feels he needs to work on his ranking that has slipped a bit. Playing the Asian Games he will miss 2 or 3 ATP tournaments where he can make valuable points.
So I do understand his decision but I am disappointed he will not be in Korea with us,” he said.