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AITA chief Khanna backs Paes

February 25, 2008 19:40 IST

Faced with a revolt by his Davis Cup team members, under-fire Leander Paes on Monday found support from a top tennis official who said the stalwart's commitment was unquestionable and his immense contribution to the game could not be overlooked.

- 'Problems when Mahesh is around'

Describing the rift in the team as a "clash of personalities", All India Tennis Association Secretary General Anil Khanna said raking up such issues in an Olympic year was unfortunate.

"Sometimes, personality clash cause problems. But to me all the players are important. I don't need to say that I back Paes. Of course, I back him as well as all my players as they contribute to Indian tennis," Khanna said.

Khanna showered praise on Paes, saying he had brought unprecedented glory to the country and his commitment to the team was unquestionable.

- Rastogi retracts from Paes controversy

"Paes is a wonderful player. He is just fantastic. He has done a lot in the last 17 years. He is an Olympic medallist. He also took India to Davis Cup semifinals, won gold in Asian Games. He is great guy, I really don't need to say that I back him," he said.

India's top Davis Cup players have refused to play under Paes, saying they had lost faith in his leadership after he questioned the commitment and fitness of some of the players.

Khanna refused to answer a question on whether the issue was related to the differences between estranged partners Mahesh Bhupathi and Paes.

- Davis Cup coach keeps mum on players' revolt

Khanna, however, criticised the revolting players for raking up the issue ahead of their crucial Davis Cup tie against Japan in April.

"We have this important Davis Cup tie against Japan. If players had opted to discuss it with me after the tie, it would have been better."

"We could have sat together and sorted it out. Then there are Challengers tournaments in May, it should not have been raised at this moment."

Bhupathi along with Prakash Amritraj, Rohan Bopanna and Karan Rastogi wrote a letter to AITA, saying they do not want to play under Paes because they have lost confidence in his leadership.

Asked what could be the provocation for the players like Karan Rastogi to join the rebel chorus, Khanna said "even I don't understand that. It is surprising."

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