Tennis

Top 100 player a must: Bhupathi

But says that things are looking up despite reverse

In each of the last five years, India has fallen at the World Group Playoff stage.

After another reverse, this time against Italy in the qualifier (rechristened following the Davis Cup revamp), captain Mahesh Bhupathi felt a nation could only do so much without a player consistently staying in the top 100 and playing Grand Slams.

“We need to live in the real world,” Bhupathi said. “If you look at the Madrid field [for Davis Cup Finals], I don’t think there will be any team without a player in the top 100. This is one of the most global sports. So it is tough.”

Optimistic

Yet, Bhupathi said there was much to feel optimistic about.

“The story is changing. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Ramkumar [Ramanathan] is up from where he was. Yuki [Bhambri] is getting back to fitness.

“Prajnesh [Gunneswaran] was ranked in the 300s and now he is nearing 100. So once we get a fully fit squad, we can certainly challenge.”

The next step, Bhupathi felt, was for the government to step in. “It is not easy for the AITA to support the players financially.

“The government needs to support the game. They are doing it for a lot of other sports like wrestling, hockey etc.

“Tennis hasn’t got that yet. Rohan [Bopanna] and Divij [Sharan] are now in TOPS [Target Olympic Podium Scheme]. But I think the singles boys need support.”

The 44-year-old said he would do everything within his means to improve the bunch.

Untapped potential

“I took on the job knowing the kind of depth we had. I feel there is a lot of untapped potential. All of them now have their own teams, but they all like engaging. I think they respect me enough to take inputs and that will continue.”

The AITA, on its part, hinted that Bhupathi would continue as captain. “We haven’t started talking about it.” said Hironmoy Chatterjee, AITA secretary-general.

“I think we lost to a superior side and there is no shame in that.

“Personally I feel we have a good bunch of boys and it would be good if they can all develop [as a group] without us changing the captain.”

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 5:55:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/top-100-player-a-must-bhupathi/article26163338.ece

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