Tennis - India's Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi says that the doors for Leander Paes is not shut, even as the 44-year-old Indian doubles legend was omitted from selection for the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie against Canada next month.
In an interview to ESPN, Bhupathi says, "No, the door is never shut on anyone. There is a criteria which the AITA has put into place after the last tie or the tie before and I have always been clear that I would like to have the option of three singles players and they have obviously picked Rohan on the basis of his ranking. From my perspective, we need to put out the right team forward to win the match. We need three points on the three days and it doesn't matter to me who brings them. I have no favourites, my job is to get those three points so we can get in the World Group."
Bhupathi, who took over as captain for the Indian Davis Cup team this year, is hoping that the return of Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan will boost India's chances at the Davis Cup but insists that the Canadians will be a strong force even if their top player Milos Raonic is not part of the team. "Yuki is having a great comeback season and Ram is having his breakthrough season. From my perspective, I am just hoping they are both healthy for another 30 days because they are both coming in with a lot of confidence and winning a lot of matches. Yuki was 88 in the world so he is just making his comeback to where he belongs. Obviously, when you come back from injury it is very hard and he has been able to do that very quickly, which is testimony to the fact that that's where he belongs, in the top-100. He is consistently beating players in the top-150 comfortably and now in Washington he proved he can beat top-100 guys also consistently. Ram is 22 years old and in terms of tennis he still has a lot of work to do but obviously working with Emilio Sanchez this year has been a shot in the arm for him and I watched his first round in Cincinnati. Emilio was at the match, and you could see Ram was looking at him after every point for encouragement. So he obviously believes in his coach and the coach believes in him so hopefully he can stay the course and break into the top-100. We were never expecting an easy match obviously, we knew they were going to be a strong challenge. Having said that my boys have played a lot of Davis Cup. Shapovalov has never played five sets before and we will exploit every single condition that we can to give ourselves the best chance. I think people need to understand how hard it is to make the World Group of 16 teams when there's 200 teams playing in the Davis cup unlike a lot of sports where you have five or 10 teams playing the sport. We are playing one of the biggest global sports out there and to make it to the elite 16 is a big deal and it will be special if we do."
India last competed in the Davis Cup World Group in 2011 and will be contesting in the World Group play-offs for the fourth year in a row.