| Sania Mirza in New Delhi, on Friday. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha |
New Delhi: Irrespective of how poorly India performed on the opening day of the Davis Cup tie against South Korea, the bickering between rebel players and the All India Tennis Association (AITA) continued unabated, at the RK Khanna Stadium, on Friday.
Watching India’s abject surrender to the South Koreans from the stands, one rebel, Yuki Bhambri, said that only a written acceptance of their demands by the AITA will make the players take up the racquet again for the national team.
Yuki, along with several other players, including Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna, Somdev Dev Varman, and Vishnu Vardhan made themselves unavailable for the South Korea tie since their demands weren’t met. The development forced AITA to select a depleted squad.
“We are ready to play if the AITA gives us in writing that it will accept all our demands. The (rebel) players have been in touch with each other and we haven’t received anything in writing so far from AITA regarding our demands,” said Bhambri.
“It is odd to sit in the stands. This is the first time I am coming to the stadium and sitting in the stands.
“It is baffling that AITA is not accepting our legitimate demands. Unfortunately, we are losing out as it’s us who play for the country, not them,” he added.
Accusing AITA of trying to create a divide between the players, Bhambri said: “We should travel as a team togetherů We can’t have two players flying in business class and the others in economy. You can’t have Sachin Tendulkar fly in the business one and Virender Sehwag in economy.”
Later, AITA chief executive officer (CEO) Hironmoy Chatterjee said nothing would be given in writing. “We are appointing a retired judge to look into the matter and solve the issue amicably.
“Before the next tie, we would again ask for players’ availability. Whoever is available would be selected for the team,” he said.
Coming back to Friday’s matches, V.M. Ranjeet, who managed to win just two games in the first singles, said that he was never under any stress during the match.
“I thought I gave a decent display,” said Ranjeet. “Actually my opponent (Min Hyeok Cho) played extraordinary tennis. Whatever I threw at him came back to me,” he added.
“I think I have given my best. I was nervous in the beginning but then I thought I settled down and I was playing my game,” Ranjeet said.
“He (Cho) was just too good. He had a great game. Everything he tried was coming off well. You could see that he got confident as the match progressed and was playing in the groove,” he added in lavish praise of his clearly superior rival.
Cho has no place in the rankings since he has just been released from the mandatory military service by the Korean government.
“My strategy was to keep rallying as long as possible. I must admit the match proved to be easier than I had expected,” Cho said.
It was a forgettable outing by all imaginable standards but Ranjeet felt it has made him a better player.
“I think I can come back better prepared for the reverse singles. I tried to mix things up in the second and third set which you need to do on this kind of surface,” he said.