The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mahesh set to miss tie vs Aussies

Calcutta: The troublesome shoulder which forced him off tennis for four months in 2000 is back to haunt Mahesh Bhupathi. Consequently, he is set to miss the Davis Cup tie against Australia.

“The shoulder has been bothering me for the last three-four weeks, I have been playing with three painkillers a day,” Bhupathi told The Telegraph from his New York apartment Monday night. “The injury will need at least two weeks to heal.”

The World Group play-off tie in Adelaide against Lleyton Hewitt & Co. is only 11 days away. “If I play the Australia tie, I’ll have to skip the Busan Asian Games. But I’d prefer going to the Asian Games as it is a quadrennial event and we have a very good chance of winning some gold medals there,” Bhupathi explained.

He has still not officially said no to Davis Cup and is in touch with AITA secretary Anil Khanna and non-playing captain Ramesh Krishnan. “I’m leaving for India in a few hours and will take a decision once I reach home,” informed Bhupathi. His mind, though, is all but made up on skipping Adelaide.

Ramesh still hopeful

In Chennai, Ramesh hasn’t yet given up hope of having Bhupathi’s service for the tough assignment Down Under, adds PTI. “The AITA has asked him to be in Adelaide. Hopefully his shoulder will heal. Even with minimum preparation he can strike a win for us with Leander,” Ramesh said.

But what if he can’t finally make it' “All along, the doubles rubber has been our strength. If Mahesh remains unfit, it will give a new twist,” Ramesh Krishnan admitted.

The former Davis Cup star rated Bhupathi, who has won the doubles title in every Grand Slam except the Australian Open, as one of the best in business. Krishnan was also all praise for Paes for having done great service for the country in the past 12 to 13 years. “His record stands by itself. Among current Davis Cuppers, he has won the maximum number of Cup ties. We are proud of that.”

On Harsh Mankad, Sunil Kumar Sipaeya and Rohan Bopanna — other members of the the Davis Cup team — Ramesh said the youngsters earned their berths on the strength of their recent good performances.

“These youngsters have the potential of performing in the international arena. They have to be fitted in. Whoever is rising, we will have to back them up. We have to look ahead after Paes and Mahesh,” observed Ramesh.

He said the players would have to graduate to higher level tournaments. “They are at present playing at Futures level, winning some matches and getting some points. You need higher ranking. It is a vicious circle. Hopefully, the next step is to use these points to go to a higher level.”

He admitted Australia would be the “overwhelming favourites,” and added his side would have to prepare well to be competitive.

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