New Delhi: Rebel players Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna may continue to find themselves out of favour when the selection committee of the All India Tennis Association sits down on Saturday to pick up the squad for the Davis Cup tie against Indonesia.
While SP Mishra would be retained as the non-playing captain, Zeeshan Ali would remain the coach.
Though the AITA chief executive Hironmoy Chatterjee said all players have made themselves available for the Bangalore tie in April and the selection would be held as per “merit”, sources in the federation indicated that the selectors might not be convinced by these arguments.
“The selection should be done by keeping an eye on future players…. The selection committee holds the right to contemplate several other factors apart from rankings,” said a source. The selectors, the source added, might also consider the fact that both Bhupathi and Bopanna have problems in pairing up with Paes in doubles.
Both Bhupathi and Bopanna are having a battle with the national body since the London Olympics when they refused to partner Leander Paes and forced the AITA to send them as a separate doubles team. An angry AITA slammed a two-year ban on the duo from the national team, an order that was later stayed by a Karnataka court.
While the selection of Paes (ranked 8 in doubles) and singles players Yuki Bhambri (ranked 257) and Somdev Dev Varman (354) is a foregone conclusion, it could be Purav Raja (165) and Vishnu Vardhan (323) who would pair up as the second doubles player. Bhupathi and Bopanna are currently ranked 10th and 12th respectively, in doubles.
While Vardhan dished out a creditable performance with Paes in London Olympics, Raja partnered Paes to give India their only win in the 1-4 drubbing against Korea recently.
On Friday, the three-member committee appointed by the AITA to look into the demands of the players and reach a long-term solution, met for the first time. The next meeting will be held on March 16. Former Davis Cupper Naresh Kumar, retired justice Deepak Verma and retired IAS officer MC Gupta are the members of the committee.
Though some of the rebel players said they have no faith in the committee, AITA said the committee members would meet the players to discuss the problems during the Davis Cup tie against Indonesia.