Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi
New Delhi: All India Tennis Association (AITA) finally showed some guts on Saturday when they dropped Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna from the Davis Cup squad for the tie against New Zealand.
The selection committee of the AITA, which met in the capital, made it clear that Bhupathi and Bopanna have been dropped because of the rigid stand taken by the duo regarding the selection of the Indian squad for the London Olympics.
Both Bhupathi and Bopanna refused to partner Leander Paes in the Olympics and were successful in forcing the AITA to send them as the second doubles team from India for the London Games.
With a union minister backing the two Bangalore-based players, AITA had to succumb to pressure.
While Bhupathi and Bopanna lost tamely in the doubles second round, the seven-member Indian side drew a blank in London.
In a statement issued on Saturday, AITA said: The honorary secretary general Bharat Oza informed the (selection) committee that AITA executive committee meeting had taken place on July 1, 2012, and had decided that in view of the stand taken by Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna regarding selection for the Olympics team, they should not be considered for the selection against New Zealand.
“This view of the executive committee was endorsed by the honorary life president of AITA Yashwant Sinha,” the statement further said.
A new-look Indian team comprising relatively junior players will take on the Kiwis at Chandigarh from September 14 to 16. The team members are Yuki Bhambri, Vishnu Vardhan, Saket Myneni, Divji Sharan, Sanam Singh and N Sriram Balaji.
The squad will be pruned to four on September 2 before officially sending the names of the team members to International Tennis Federation (ITF).
Seasoned campaigner Leander Paes and Somdev Dev Varman were not considered as they made themselves unavailable for the tie. While Paes is scheduled to play World Team Tennis in the US, Somdev informed AITA that he was still not fit enough to play the Davis Cup.
Later, Oza said: “As per the executive committee meeting on July 1, we got the direction that there should be a code of conduct for the players who refuse to play and go against the decision of the selection committee. We faced this selection problem before the Olympics. So, Bopanna and Bhupathi were not considered.”
Talking about Somdev and Paes, Oza added both of them had requested to be excused for the tie.
“Somdev has come out of injury. He has informed that he will not be available. Although he will play in the US Open due to ranking commitments, he is not confident about his fitness.
“Similarly Paes had expressed unavailability as he had strenuous Olympics and Grand Slam ahead,” he said.
India will have to fight to stay in Asia / Oceania Group I when they play New Zealand. The losers of the play-off tie will be relegated to Group II. The last time India played New Zealand was in 2004, which they won 3-2 in the away tie. The head-to-head record is tied at 3-3.