“There is nothing personal against Mahesh Bhupathi for his decision not to join the Indian Davis Cup squad. It is purely a question of winning the two singles matches in a Davis Cup tie,” says S.P. Misra, the non-playing captain of the Indian tennis team.
In an exclusive chat with The Hindu , Misra said it was not enough to have a good doubles combination to win a Davis Cup tie. “You need to have very strong and fit singles players too in the team,” he added. “That is the reason why we opted for a third singles player. Yuki Bhambri and Sanam Singh will be the main singles players, with Rohan Bopanna also capable of playing singles and doubles,” he said.
India will field a team comprising Yuki and Sanam (singles) and Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes (doubles) in the Zone Group I second round clash against Uzbekistan next month. “In the last Davis Cup play-off tie against Japan, when Somdev Devvarman was injured, we had a very difficult choice to make — that of playing Vishnuvardhan in the singles,” the former Davis Cupper said. “It is very unfortunate that so much fuss is being made out of Bhupathi's exclusion. I reiterate it is a question of winning two singles.”
“It was a collective decision. I didn't talk to Bhupathi, but I believe Mr. Anil Khanna of AITA did speak to him and he was sporting enough to accept the decision in the right spirit,” Misra said.
“It was a decision taken with the specific objective of winning the tie. It did come to the issue of choosing between Paes and Bhupathi, but because of the former's better ranking, he was preferred,” he added.
Misra said this decision to drop or rest Bhupathi will have no bearing on India's Olympics preparations. “That is a totally different issue. There you will get an entry into the Games if you are in the top 10 in the world. And, again, that depends on how well Paes and Bhupathi perform in the run-up to the London Games.” On the chances against Uzbekistan in the forthcoming Davis Cup tie, Misra said it would be very tough. “But you never know. Many strange things happen in the Davis Cup. Let us hope for the best,” he concluded. — Special Correspondent