Mahesh Bhupathi has said he is looking at moving the courts over a two-year ban on representing India imposed on him by the All India Tennis Association.
The AITA has banned Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna from representing India till June 30, 2014, in response to their refusal to team up with the others named by the selectors for the London Olympics. They were consequently not named in the Davis Cup squad for the recent home tie against New Zealand.
Asked to specify the legal options before him, Bhupathi said: “I don’t know if we can do anything. We will definitely pursue a legal route. My lawyers are deciding the course of action… can’t say much now.”
Talking about the repercussions of a two-year ban on his career, he said: “The next year will be my last on the tour. Two years is a long time. I have played my last for India in the present circumstances (London Olympics).”
Bhupathi also said he would have a new doubles partner in 2013, freeing Rohan Bopanna to pair with someone else keeping his long-term career in mind.
“Rohan will obviously play for many more years, so it makes sense for him to find someone — hopefully like Aisam Qureshi, as young as he in a partnership for the next five years, and try to win a Major.”
Bhupathi revealed that he had come to know of AITA’s decision to exclude him from the Davis Cup squad for the home tie against New Zealand through a friend in the media.
“I was available for the tie last week, but no one from AITA asked me. I actually got a communication about the ban from a pressperson, asking for a reaction,” he said.
Lashing out at the federation for “disrupting” his efforts to promote the game, Bhupathi said: “They continue to misuse the power they have to try and teach me a lesson only because they feel I am able to do a lot more for the sport than what they should be doing.”
Responding to a question about whom, he feels could step in to resolve the issue, Bhupathi said: “There are powers like the IOA or the Sports Ministry who can take action. I don’t know who to complain to.
“Somebody needs to step in for the sake of Indian tennis.”
Asked about his activities off court, he said: “I have been running tennis tournaments, building tennis courts, raising money for talented kids and even opening academies across the country.
“Tennis has given me everything I have today and, by God’s grace, I am able to give back a lot to the sport.”
Talking of the selection controversies ahead of the London Games, Bhupathi said: “No one made an effort to talk to me or to Leander (Paes). No effort was made to get us in a room and solve the issue.
“Two days after the French Open began, AITA told me that we (Bhupathi and Sania Mirza) weren’t the obvious choice as the Olympics mixed doubles pair,” he revealed.
Neither figured in the Davis Cup squad for the home tie against New Zealand — which India won easily — at Chandigarh.
Bhupathi can compete on the ATP circuit and in Grand Slams; AITA’s punitive action only bars him from representing the nation in Davis Cup or in other events like the Asian Games.