Millennium Post

Back to bitter zone!

Indian tennis was hit by controversy on Wednesday over reports that top players may boycott next month’s Davis Cup tie against South Korea if a slew of demands were not met.

The group of players, headed by Somdev Devvarman, want a better distribution of the Davis Cup prize money, a change in the support staff and involvement in the choice of venues for ties.

The All-India Tennis Association (AITA) and the players currently have a 50-50 share of the prize money sent by the world governing body from revenues earned from the tournament.

The players also wanted non-playing captain Shiv Misra and national coach Nandan Bal to be replaced and a full-time physiotherapist be inducted in the squad.

Both the AITA and Devvarman played down a report that the players could stay away from the Cup tie against the Koreans if their demands were ignored.

The Asia-Oceania group one tie in New Delhi from February 1-3 will take the winners into the play-offs for next year’s elite world group.

‘I don’t want to point fingers at anyone or make an alarming statement,’ said Devvarman, who is taking part in the ongoing ATP Chennai Open.

‘You will probably hear more about it in the days to come.’ An AITA official, who did not want to be named, accepted the players had made suggestions which will be discussed before the Cup squad is named around January 11.

‘It’s not as serious an issue as is being made out,’ the official said. ‘We have already spoken to the players and will arrive at an agreement soon.’

Among those players supporting Devvarman’ stance are senior players Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, but former captain Leander Paes is not part of the group.

Devvarman, who was India’s top player with a ranking of 62 in mid-2011, fell to 663 by the end of last year when he was sidelined with a shoulder injury for almost seven months.

The 27-year-old proved he was fit again as he defeated the 106th-ranked Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic in the first round of the Chennai Open on Tuesday.


India’s Davis Cup captain SP Misra on Wednesday questioned the logic behind the demand for his ouster from the team by Somdev Devvarman, asking why the young player did not speak up when he played some of his best matches under him. A livid Misra said how can Somdev say that he is not attuned to the modern game. ‘I was very upset when I heard that Somdev does not want me to be the captain of the side. He has played some of his best matches under my captaincy,’ Misra said. Coach Nandan Bal also said that he was surprised by the players’ statements, but added that he does not care a bit about what the players say.   


Indicating that it was not ready to budge under pressure from the revolting players, the AITA today backed its Davis Cup support staff, saying it was not prepared to change the captain and the coach on the insistence of some players. ‘Look, we have experts to decide on these matters. People like Misra are so experienced. Earlier, we used to get suggestions from star players such as Leander (Paes) on surface preferences. And we are doing that even today. ‘But if players say that take this tie to Tripura or some other city, change the coach and captain, it can’t be done. We can consider their suggestions for surface but not the city. The respective state Association also has be to ready to host a tie,’ AITA’s Bharat Oza said. Oza also said in categorical terms that they will introduce a disciplinary code for players before the February tie against South Korea. 
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