Vijay Amritraj wants India to identify four singles players

Vijay Amritraj calls the doubles format nothing more than a "club sport" and wants India to focus on the singles.

Vijay Amritraj receives the inaugural SJFI medal from former Test cricketer G.R. Viswanath.   -  Special Arrangement

Vijay Amritraj dismissed questions on Leander Paes’s Davis Cup future, stating that the doubles format is nothing more than a “club sport”. Amritraj spoke to reporters ahead the inauguration of the 41st National Convention of the Sports Journalists Federation of India (SJFI) here on Friday. Amritraj was presented the SJFI's inaugural gold medal for his contribution to tennis and promotion of the sport through the media.

Excerpts:

Do you expect Leander Paes to make a comeback in Davis Cup?

It makes absolutely zero difference. What are you contributing? You contribute nothing. Where are our four singles players? That’s really all we need. I don’t know why we keep having any conversation about doubles. It doesn’t exist. The tournament directors don’t want to have doubles. For years, they have been trying to get rid of doubles.

Doubles is a great club sport; it is fun to watch. That’s where it ends. People don’t go to Wimbledon saying I am going to Court No. 11 to watch doubles. Today, you look at the newspapers - they don’t even publish the results of doubles. We have to talk only about singles.

What is your view on the new Davis Cup format?

The best part of Davis Cup has always been home and away matches. Playing all the events in one city is a precedent nobody would welcome. Some changes were needed. My suggestion originally was to play World Group matches in the Davis Cup every two years, so that the teams that have played towards the very end, after the Australian Open, don’t need to start again right away to defend it. That would be best because you still keep the home and away format in the World Group while Group I and II remain the same. For us, Davis Cup remains the be-all-and-end all of tennis along with the Grand Slams.

What convinced the ITF Board to go for the changes in Davis Cup?

ITF (International Tennis Federation) was, in fact, running short of funds; something was needed to be done to inject money into the system. Point number two is all the smaller countries – in Africa, Asia, South America - were not getting any funding from the ITF to be able to develop their own talent. Here’s an opportunity to get some money infused into each one of these countries - an amount which they never had before to develop junior tennis. Those things make sense, but at what cost? Question is, could they have done that and still maintained this ability of having the home and away games and playing them over four weeks?

Now, all of a sudden you are playing it over two weeks. Is this going to guarantee all these guys - the top players - playing in it for sure? With all due respect, is a Spain playing France in a neutral country going to make that much of a difference in a three-set match?

When Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Del Potro – all these guys - play anywhere, there is going to be a good crowd. But what happens post their careers?