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Should Mahesh Bhupathi get a farewell Davis Cup tie?

Last updated on: January 29, 2014 17:35 IST

Should Mahesh Bhupathi get a farewell Davis Cup tie?

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As Mahesh Bhupathi prepares to retire later this year, India's new Davis Cup captain Anand Amritraj feels the veteran tennis ace should get a farewell tie.

He, however, made clear that it is not in his hands to decide on the matter.

Bhupathi has said that he will play a few select tournaments before hanging his racquet, and Wimbledon is likely to be his last competition as a player.

Bhupathi, who will be 40 then, is not in the current team, which will take on Chinese Taipei from Friday.

The higher-ranked Rohan Bopanna, at No 13, is the lone doubles specialist in the team.


Image: Mahesh Bhupathi
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

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If India wins the Group I tie, it will play Korea in away in April.

The selectors keep rankings in mind while choosing the squad, and unless Bhupathi, currently ranked No 38, has some outstanding results, his ranking will not improve.

Amritraj, who is captaining the side for the first time in a non-playing role, says, personally, he would like to see Bhupathi playing one last time in the Davis Cup, since he has served the country for so long.

"It's not my decision entirely. On a personal level, I think he should have a farewell tie. But it's not only my decision. It's entirely up to the selection committee to decide on this," Amritraj said.

Since Leander Paes has excused himself from national duty in 2014, there is a possibility that the AITA can team Bhupathi with Bopanna for the Asian Games, scheduled for September 19-October 4, in Incheon, South Korea.


Image: Mahesh Bhupathi
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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Amritraj said it is uncertain whether Bhupathi will be able to make it to the squad by that time.

"Asian Games is possible, but we will have to wait and see in September. We don't know if he will continue playing (till that time)," he said.

Bhupathi has not played for India in the Davis Cup since September 2011. He and Bopanna were banned by the All India Tennis Association on grounds of indiscipline. That ban was stayed by the Karnataka high court, and the latter returned to the team on merit.

Bhupathi paired with Bopanna at the 2012 London Olympics, but they could not realize the dream of winning a medal at the world's biggest sporting spectacle.


Image: Mahesh Bhupathi (left) with Rohan Bopanna
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Talking about the upcoming tie, Amritraj said it would be mistake to take Taipei lightly despite the visitors not having two of their top players -- Yen-Hsun Lu and Jimmy Wang – in the side.

"I don't think it's that easy. It is going to be a tough match. Obviously, it could have been lot tougher if Lu and Wang were there. But even without them, it will be a very interesting tie.

"It's not going to be like Indonesia in April, because these guys are lot tougher than that. We are definitely favoured to win, but having said that it will still be quite a tough tie.

"We need to win three matches; if it is 3-0 or 3-1 it does not matter. I am confident we will win," the 61-year-old added.

Amritraj, who reached men's doubles semi-finals at Wimbledon along with his brother Vijay in 1976, said since most of the players prefer playing on medium speed courts, surface is hardly an advantage for India despite it being a home tie.

"They too like these courts. These are medium-paced hard courts. It's not like older days when we used to play on grass courts where it was a definite advantage for us and disadvantage for them in the 1970s and 80s. But now these are the same courts which top players like, it's also their surface.

"It's a very even playing field. I think they will play well and we need to play better," he said.

On the team's preparations, he said, "It's all going very well. We came here on Sunday. We have spent lot of time together. We came early so that we can have team bonding. We are practising hard and working hard."


Image: Vijay and Anand Amritraj
Photographs: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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