Rohan Bopanna back in Davis Cup squad

Mumbai, Jan 11 : The selection committee of the All India Tennis Association (AITA) Saturday recalled doubles specialist Rohan Bopanna in the six-member Davis Cup side for the Asia/Oceania Group I contest against Chinese Taipei, starting Jan 31 in Indore.

While Leander Paes has opted out of national duty for 2014 due to personal reasons there was no place for Mahesh Bhupathi, who hasn't played Davis Cup for the last three years.

Both Bopanna and Bhupathi were slapped with a two-year ban by the AITA in September 2012 after they refused to partner Paes in the men's doubles of the 2012 London Olympics. The duo, however, managed to get a stay order on the ban from Karnataka High Court.

Bopanna, who along with Pakistani partner Aisam ul-haq Qureshi finished runners-up in the Sydney International, will be the lone doubles specialist in the squad.

The selectors also picked greenhorn Saketh Myneni, who will be making his Davis Cup debut as Bopanna's partner while Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri will spearhead the singles challenge.

India's Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali told IANS that the selection committee decided to go ahead with three singles players and one doubles specialist in Bopanna.

"We have decided to go in with three singles specialists and one doubles player. It also gives a bit of luxury if a singles player gets injured. Saketh has done impressively well in the last few months and we felt he deserves it. He is a good singles player who can play doubles as well," Ali said.

Asked if the doors have been shut on Bhupathi, Ali said: "No, the doors are not shut on Bhupathi. We have picked up the team on the basis of rankings. After Leander pulled out, Bopanna was the highest ranked doubles player at World No.13 while Mahesh is World No.35. If we had decided to go with two doubles players then Mahesh surely would have been a part of the team."

Sanam Singh, who was a part of the playing squad in the last tie against Indonesia in Bangalore has been dropped to the reserves list along with Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan.

In fact, Myneni, ranked 318th, has pipped Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (314), for a place in the playing team. Though Nedunchezhiyan is the third highest ranked player in singles after Somdev (93) and Yuki (172), Myneni was picked up for his superior singles record against him.

Myneni also had a good run in the Chennai Open, where he partnered Russian Karen Khachanov to beat the top-seeded pair of Bopanna and Qureshi to reach the semi-finals.

Youngster Ramkumar Ramanathan, who had beaten Somdev in the Chennai Open, has also been included in the squad as a special invitee.

Squad: Somdev Devvarman, Yuki Bhambri, Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni
Reserves: Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, Sanam Singh
Special Invitee: Ramkumar Ramanathan

--IANS (Posted on 11-01-2014)

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