It’s been an eventful few days for Indian tennis with the AITA taking a hard stance against two veterans, India’s top female player announcing that she will not be playing singles anymore; and India’s most successful male tennis singles player in over a decade making a comeback to the ATP tour after a serious surgery. Here are some quick thoughts on all this and more -
AITA drops Bhupathia and Bopanna from Davis Cup
Sending a clear message to players, the AITA announced that it will not consider Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna for selection to the Davis Cup. The AITA may or may not have taken the right stance, depending on which side of the fence you sit on, but the manner in which they go about making their decisions certainly leaves a lot to be desired.
Here is the statement from Bharat Oza, AITA Secretary General, “As per the Executive Committee meeting on July 1, we got the direction that there should be a code of conduct for the players who refuse to play (as selected by AITA). We had this selection problems before the Olympics, so Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi were not considered.”
If the decision was made more than 45 days ago, could it not have been announced as soon as the Olympics were over. Also, there is no word on how long the embargo on Bhupathi and Bopanna would last, leaving the room open for more back-room politicking. Also, AITA’s blue eyed boy Leander Paes has decided to opt out of the tie so that he can focus on World Team Tennis. Paes lets go a good opportunity to establish himself and Vishnu Vardhan as a formidable pairing for next year. But then again, Paes may be close to retirement now so he might not be really thinking of the long term.
Somdev Devvarman, the flag bearer for India in singles, has also asked not to be considered since he is still getting back to match fitness after shoulder surgery. Thus, the AITA has decided to go with Yuki Bhambri, Vishnu Vardhan, Saketh Myneni, Divij Sharan, Sanam Singh and N Sriram Balaji for the squad. These are the players India is going to be depend on in the future so it’s a good time to get them in the spotlight and hand over the reins to them. India take on New Zealand in the September 14-16 Asia/Oceania Zone Group I tie in Chandigarh. The highest ranked Kiwi is no. 324 in the world and even with this new inexperienced squad, India should be able to get the win and keep their place in Asia/Oceania Zone Group I.
Sania gives up on singles ambition
Everyone knows that Sania Mirza‘s best days in singles are behind her rather than ahead of her. But still her decision to give up playing singles completely might come as a surprise to some. Especially when you consider that several players are playing top-level singles well into their 30s. But it seems that Sania does not have the drive to put her oft-injured body through the rigours of the singles tour once again. The Hyderabadi has announced that she would be focussing on doubles and has two immediate goals – try to improve her best ranking of no. 7 and win a couple of more Slams before calling it a day. Sania said that she would only play the occasional singles event or Fed Cup. Seeing an Indian in the main draw of the WTA singles events will be missed now until one of the next gen girls steps up and into Sania’s shoes.
Somdev returns to ATP tour
Somdev Devvarman will play in his first ATP level event this weekend as he tries to qualify for the ATP Winston-Salem Open. Since injuring his shoulder and undergoing surgey in January, Somdev has been out of action – coming back only in time for the Olympics where he lost in the first round. Remember, shoulder surgeries are not easy to come back from. It took Maria Sharapova more than 4 years after hers to come back to her best. Somdev followed the Olympics by going back to the ITF circuit where he lost in the first round of one of the Future events in Britain. That and his decision to ask not to be selected for India’s Davis Cup tie in September suggests that the Indian is not confident of his game yet and his best days may also be behind him rather than ahead.
Also of interest in the ATP qualifying draw at Winston-Salem are two other Indians – left handed Sanam Singh, who earlier this year won 3 successive ITF Future titles, and little known Amogh Prabhakar, a 21 year old who has been playing the US college circuit over the past few years and had an impressive 21-6 record in the 2011-2012 season, good enough to earn him a wild card here.
Indians do well in ATP Cincinnati and ITF Turkey
As we speak, Bhupathi and Bopanna are through to the semifinals of the Masters Series event in Cincinnati. The Indian duo received a bye in the first round and a walkover in the second before they beat the 3rd seeded Polish duo Matkowski/ Frystenberg in the quarters. Another win should hold them in good stead for the US Open – which may be the final slam that Bhupathi and Bopanna play as a pair. It would be interesting to see if Bhupathi decides to play one more year on the doubles tour and with the Olympics now over, the time may be ripe for Bopanna to get back with former partner Qureshi. Also, another good week for the Indian girls on the ITF circuit. While Kyra Shroff was beaten in the first round of the $10K Futures event in Turkey, 2 Indian teens – Rishika Sunkara and Sowjanya Bavisetti reached the quarter finals. Bavisetti had to qualify for the singles draw and also upset 4th seed Sabina Sharipova in the second round – marking herself as one to watch in the coming months.