The controversial sacking of Mahesh Bhupathi as the Davis Cup captain by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) has hurt the tennis legend but it hardly came as a shock to him.
Bhupathi, after refusing to travel to Pakistan for India’s Davis Cup tie on security grounds, was removed as the captain with Rohit Rajpal replacing him.
However, Bhupathi says the manner in which AITA has dealt with tennis players in the last two decades, he wasn’t surprised by the decision. “I am still in touch with the boys on a daily basis. I was disappointed with the way the Federation dealt with it. When they wanted me to become captain, they flew down to Hyderabad, had a meeting with me,” Bhupathi said on the sidelines of an event in Mumbai.
He continued, “I don’t mind if they think that it is time for me to step out, but a courtesy phone call saying ‘listen we think it is time to put someone new in the system’ and I would have respected that but I didn’t even get that call. Honestly the way the federation has dealt with not only me but everyone in Indian tennis for the last 20 years, there is no surprise. But at some level it kind of hurts.”
The 45-year-old said he was reluctant to take over the national captaincy but was convinced otherwise by the AITA after agreeing to his vision. “I don’t think at that time I was ready to take on captaincy, but they made a hard sell. They committed to certain amount of support on what I wanted to create — a system — and got me to agree to take the job,” he said.
The tie has been shifted to Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan and Bhupathi feels India will easily win the tie.
“It will be absolutely not difficult for them (Indian) to beat Pakistan anywhere in this world…we were always going to beat Pakistan regardless of where we played and who played for Pakistan. The bottom line is that now the good news is we have a semi-descent draw- if we win we are playing Croatia,” he said.
After much back and forth over the India-Pakistan tie, it will finally get underway from Friday.