Mahesh Bhupathi: Not surprised by how AITA dealt with me but it hurts

Mahesh Bhupathi was removed from the captain’s position by AITA after he refused to travel to Pakistan for a Davis Cup tie on security grounds.

AITA has picked Rohit Rajpal as Bhupathi's successor for the Davis Cup tie against Pakistan.   -  Debasish Bhaduri

India’s former Davis Cup skipper Mahesh Bhupathi on Thursday said he is yet to get over his unceremonious ouster from the team but said it was hardly a surprise given how the All India Tennis Association (AITA) has dealt with players in the last two decades.

Bhupathi was removed from the captain’s position by AITA after he refused to travel to Pakistan for a Davis Cup tie on security grounds. The tie is now being held in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan starting Friday.

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“I am still in touch with the boys daily. I was disappointed with the way the Federation dealt with it. When they wanted me to become captain, they flew down to Hyderabad, had a meeting with me,” Bhupathi recalled on the sidelines of an event here.

“I don’t mind if they think that it is time for me to step out, but a courtesy phone call saying ‘listen we think it is time to put someone new in the system’ and I would have respected that but I didn’t even get that call.

Different scenario

About the contentious issue of an Indian team tuoring Pakistan amid political tension, Bhupathi said the scenario would have been very different if it was the cricket team that was involved.

“Bilateral, tri-lateral, single-lateral, if somebody from the government said it is not safe to go to Pakistan, game would have been done, but nobody was willing to say that. But nobody else is going to Pakistan.

“If the Indian cricket team was supposed to go to Pakistan, MLAs (MPs) would have stood in Parliament and said something about it. But for us, it did not matter and so be it,” he said.

“Honestly the way the federation has dealt with not only me but everyone in Indian tennis for the last 20 years, there is no surprise. But at some level it kind of hurts,” he added.

Bhupathi said he agreed to the job as he had a vision for Indian tennis. “I don’t think at that time I was ready to take on captaincy, but they made a hard sell. They committed to certain amount of support on what I wanted to create -- a system -- and got me to agree to take the job,” he said.

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Talking about the tie against Pakistan, Bhupathi said India would win without much trouble.

“It will not be difficult for them (Indian) to beat Pakistan anywhere in this world... we were always going to beat Pakistan regardless of where we played and who played for Pakistan,” he said.

“The bottom line is that now the good news is we have a semi-decent draw- if we win we are playing Croatia,” Bhupathi added.