Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna Named in Davis Cup Squad
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New Delhi: In a move that signals an "all is well" sentiment in the Indian tennis camp, veterans Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna were named in the team for India's Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan. The announcement was made in a press conference where it was also mentioned that the final four players for the tie will be named two weeks before the tie which will be played in Bengaluru from April 7.
The six-member squad also includes singles specialists Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan, along with youngsters N Sriram Balaji and Prajnesh Gunneswaran.
The tie against Uzbekistan will be Mahesh Bhupathi's first as India's non-playing captain. The announcement ended weeks of suspense around whether the two veterans, Paes and Bopanna, will find a place in the team under the new leadership.
The All India Tennis Association has stated that the rationale behind the selection of Paes and Bopanna is that they are India highest ranked doubles players.
The AITA selection committee, led by SP Misra, named four singles players -- Ramkumar Ramanathan, Yuki Bhambri, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and N Sriram Balaji -- and two doubles players -- Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes -- in the six-member squad.
AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee said it was now up to the captain to decide on the final four.
"This is the best India has and we have given the captain the opportunity to pick from the best. As of today (for the doubles) the best option was Leander and Rohan, ranking wise and form wise. Captain will discuss with chairman of the Selection Committee 10 days before the tie to finalise the final four," Chatterjee said.
"This tie is very important. Denis Istomin is expected to win both the singles matches if he is fit, so doubles becomes very crucial in this tie, so it is now up to the captain."
Chatterjee also said they had thought of picking three singles and one doubles player but after discussions, they opted to have a six-member squad.
Asked about the troubled past involving Bopanna and Paes, Chatterjee said, "When the players step on the court, they see only the ball."
When picked as a pair for Rio Olympics last year, Bopanna had stated that his game was not compatible with Paes.
Coach Zeeshan Ali also made it clear that selection will always be dictated by requirement of the side during a particular tie.
"It's not fixed that we play three singles and one doubles or two singles and two doubles. It will depend on which team we play. As far as Rohan and Leander are concerned, they had issues in the past but they have also come together and played some amazing matches," Zeeshan said.
"Each one is ready to play and if they had any issue they would not have made themselves available. They are professionals."
((With PTI inputs))