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Bopanna dropped from India's Davis Cup squad, Mahesh Bhupathi joins team

Bopanna's replacement is yet to be revealed.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12:  Rohan Bopanna of India talks tactics with Mahesh Bhupathi of India during their men's doubles final match against Marcel Granollers of Spain and Marc Lopez of Spain during day eight of the ATP World Tour Finals at O2 Arena on November 12, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Former partners: Bopanna is out of the Davis Cup team, while Bhupathi joins as its captain

Former top-10 doubles player Rohan Bopanna has been dropped from India’s Davis Cup tie against New Zealand, it has now emerged. The 36-year-old, who qualified for the Olympics this year in the men’s and mixed doubles, has had somewhat of a slow spell this year following the qualification, missing out on titles this year. He made two finals with now former partner Florin Mergea early on in the season in Australia and Spain. 

It was on the back of these finals and a strong 2015 with Mergea that Bopanna had an automatic qualification for the Olympic Games, where his partnership – and publicized feud with Leander Paes – affected the pair’s performance, with India seeing a first round exit. 

The mixed doubles saw Bopanna, pairing Sania Mirza, lose out on a bronze medal, with Bopanna’s performance criticized at the time. 

Bopanna paired up temporarily with Grand Slam winner Daniel Nestor following his split from Romanian doubles specialist Mergea, a split that was not officially announced. He also played tournaments with Indian talent Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. 

2010 US Open finalist Bopanna has been a fixture on India’s Davis Cup squad since 2002, and was significantly responsible for India’s 2010 Davis Cup win over Brazil; that victory took the country to the World Group stages of the tournament for the first time in over a decade. 

It is not as yet clear whom Bopanna will be replaced with, with the tie against New Zealand, in the Asia/Oceania Group I stage, to be played from February 3-5 next year. 

India will host the tie, although it is not known which city it will be played in. The DLTA (Delhi Lawn Tennis Association) and the Maharashtra Lawn Tennis Association have been  vying for the honour, and in case the latter wins, the tie will be hosted in Pune. 

Non-playing captain Anand Amritraj will also be playing his final Davis Cup tie as India’s captain here. The AITA have revealed that Grand Slam winner and former World No. 1 Mahesh Bhupathi will be taking over Amritraj’s role after the Davis Cup tie in New Zealand. 

There are several names being spoken of for the Davis Cup side, with AITA general secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee revealing the association were aiming for singles players Yuki Bhambri and Somdev Devvarman to be fit in time for the tie. The two, who have been among the highest-ranked singles players from the country, have both struggled with injuries of late, with Bhambri in particular making attempts to play during the 2016 season as injuries prevented a comeback.

India’s Davis Cup tie against Spain in New Delhi this year saw Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan put up fights; it was arguably, however, Sumit Nagal who stood out amongst the Indian talent as the hosts suffered a whitewash to the Conchita Martinez-led Spanish team, featuring Olympic and Grand Slam winners Rafael Nadal, Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez and former top-10 player David Ferrer.

Nagal was able to hold his own against 2016 Olympic doubles gold medal winner Marc Lopez, scraping a set off the experienced Spaniard, and could well be another name considered for the squad. 

Doubles specialists Purav Raja and Divij Sharan have had a strong 2016 season as well, and given that Bopanna’s absence will need to be filled by another doubles player, the pair could be in contention for a place on the team, which could now see a thorough overhaul. 

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