| HEWITT: Strong voice for players’ union
Calcutta: They are still on the same wavelength while playing together for the country, but Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi don’t often share views off the court. It’s no different when it comes to their opinion on the newly-formed players’ body — International Men’s Tennis Association (IMTA).
While Paes welcomes the move and considers it to be one in the right direction, Bhupathi is sceptical. Paes has already signed up, among nearly 60 players who have done so, but Bhupathi looks reluctant to join the new body.
“There’s a void of sorts between the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and players. Forming a body for players will be the right way to put forth the players’ views. It’s also a way to help the sport grow and I think players are getting used to the idea,” said Paes.
Over to Bhupathi: “I have not yet signed and am not totally comfortable with all their views. Personally, I don’t think it will work.” It’s not that Bhupathi thinks nothing needs to be done. Only, he doesn’t think IMTA will show the way to a perfect world.
“I agree there is scope for improvement at the ATP, but at the same time, it can’t be overlooked that they have done a lot for the game. I don’t think the association will materialise, because they might not be able to convince the number of players required to float such a body,” said Bhupathi.
Among the top players supporting the launch of IMTA are Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin, while Andre Agassi leads the list of players opposing it. “Someone like Agassi is never going to sign,” says Bhupathi.
Paes, however, is all praise for IMTA. “We are losing ground to other sports. It’s good that players have decided to come together. There will be no conflict. We’ll go hand in hand with the governing bodies. It will give us a greater say in matters like governing or marketing of tennis.”
Some other players to have joined the IMTA are James Blake of the US, Roger Federer of Switzerland, Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Thai rising star Paradorn Srichaphan.