Davis Cup squad: Paes not to be considered; Yuki, Saketh to return

With Leander Paes ranked behind three Indian players in doubles — Rohan Bopanna (21), Divij Sharan (53) and Purav Raja (54) — the AITA selection committee has decided to exclude him.

Leander Paes Paes was part of the six-man squad for the tie against Uzbekistan in Bengaluru. (File photo)   -  THE HINDU

Leander Paes isn't expected to make the Indian Davis Cup team for the World Group play-off tie against Canada in September. But top singles player Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni are set to feature in the squad, which will be announced by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) selection committee on Monday in Thrissur.

The 44-year-old Paes was part of the six-man squad for the tie against Uzbekistan in Bengaluru in April this year but was left out of the final four by captain Mahesh Bhupathi.

Upset and embarrassed, Paes had left the venue during the tie, prompting Bhupathi to reveal on Facebook that he hadn't promised Paes a spot in the final four.

The AITA does not want a repeat of such an unsavoury incident. With Paes now ranked behind three Indian players in doubles — Rohan Bopanna (21), Divij Sharan (53) and Purav Raja (54) — the committee has decided to exclude him.

Both Bhambri, who recently beat world No. 22 Gael Monfils, and Saketh Myneni had missed the Uzbekistan tie due to injuries.

Now that they are back on the ATP Tour, they will take their places back in the side for the September 15-17 tie in Edmonton. Ramkumar Ramanathan, who recently beat world No. 8 Dominic Thiem, will be the other singles player in the team.

Bopanna being the highest-ranked doubles player in the country is automatic choice for the doubles rubber.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran and N. Sriram Balaji, who made their Davis Cup debuts in Bengaluru, are likely to be reserve members of the squad.

All the squad members will assemble in New York for a camp at the University of Colombia, a week before the tie, to be played on indoor courts.

All India Tennis Association (AITA) says Paes needs to improve his ranking to stake a claim in the Indian team.

“We are following norms. There are players, who are ranked higher than Leander. How can you ignore someone like Bopanna who is ranked 21. And the captain has the prerogative to have a squad of his choice,” AITA Secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee said.

“No, all doors are open for him. But he has to improve his ranking. We go by the rankings,” Chatterjee said.

Paes needs one more win to claim the world record for most Davis Cup wins in doubles. He is tied on 42 wins with Italian legend Nicola Pietrangeli.

The AITA Selection Committee, headed by SP Misra, will also select a team for the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to be held in September in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.