Bhupathi sticks to his stand

Bhupathi sticks to his stand

While the axing of Leander Paes once again cast spotlight on the bad blood between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, the captain of the Indian Davis Cup team asserted he could in no way risk playing two doubles players and Rohan Bopanna won the nod because of his big serves.

“Yeah it obviously was a tough decision,” said Bhupathi on dropping the 43-year-old Paes. “That’s why I wanted to wait till the last minute. I think I was pretty clear from the start that I wanted three singles players and one doubles specialist. A couple of boys on the team have never played before, they haven’t played long matches and they haven’t played under Davis Cup stress situation. Going in with a specialist doubles team would have been a high-risk situation. The conditions are quick here. Rohan Bopanna has been serving well and seeing the ball well. He’s had a good start to the year, so that was the basis.

“I think every captain has a different style. I have made my style pretty clear to my squad two months ago. I run the team the way I think it should be run, I think 25 years of experience should give me the ability to do so. I’m not saying that’s the right way but considering the factors I am dealing with -- two new kids, injuries, boys who have never played five sets -- I have to take every possible chance to win three points. I thought this was the best choice,” said Bhupathi.

At 43 and with Bhupathi stating his focus is more on having four singles players rather than a specialist doubles combo, it could well be the end of Paes’ dream of creating a new Davis Cup record for most doubles wins — 42 — which he shares with Italian legend Nico Pietrangeli. Bhupathi, however, said Paes is not out of his plans.

“I made it clear, including to Leander, that by no means this is the end of the road for him. Him being on the team is invaluable in terms of experience and energy. I’ve always said from day one that I have a squad of 6-8 boys from which I can always rotate, depending on form, surface and opposition. There's no reason that the next side has two doubles guys or four singles guys. I think it’s good we all focus on Uzbekistan for now.”

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