Outgoing India Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi recently spoke about how he feels that he faced the axe by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) for protecting the interest of his Davis Cup players. “I was announced as captain and I was also invited for the meetings.
Suddenly something went wrong," said Bhupathi. "If they wanted to remove me as captain, they could have done it earlier when we lost to Italy earlier this year. My concern has always been for my players and their security.
Today, I stand vindicated that our decision not to travel to Pakistan was validated by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and they moved the tie out”. He further added, “Even when I went to New Delhi on October 15 for the AITA meeting, I was the captain.
I guess the AITA has always liked to divide and rule so the easiest thing was to cut the head of the leader”. Speaking about how Somdev Devverman, who also slammed AITA once, Bhupathi said, "I know what I have done to get these kids to be travelling, improving and winning.
To find sponsors, coaches and so on has been tough but these kids are the future and I am glad I am the one behind them”. This is not the first time Bhupathi has been made to feel unwanted just because he stood up for the players' security in Pakistan.
"Every Indian knows what relations are between India and Pakistan have been in the last six months. Travelling there was impossible and I know why my players and I decided not to travel to Islamabad. Look at what is happening on the border and how Pakistan refuses to give airspace permission even for our Prime Minister to fly," said Bhupathi.
He also faced fire from the selectors during his time when he converted to a doubles specialist. "I have no qualms about what happened then but today none can say I refused national duty. Yes, I stood by my players and refused to travel to Pakistan which was taken in national interest. If the AITA feels otherwise, that’s their call and the power they willingly abuse," added Bhupathi.