India’s non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi has left Leander Paes and made the decision to field Rohan Bopanna for his final four-man team for India’s upcoming Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group I tie against Uzbekistan, which is scheduled from April 7 to April 9 in Bengaluru. Coach Zeeshan Ali announced the decision on Thursday, after two days of Mahesh Bhupathi addressed the media stating that the doubles combination had not yet been finalized.
Mahesh Bhupathi, once the world No.1 in doubles with Leander Paes, had previously selected Ramkumar Ramanathan, Yuki Bhambri, N.Sriram Balaji and Prajnesh Gunneswaran for the tie to be played during this weekend (April 7-9) in Bangalore. Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna had been however kept as reserves in the squad for the Davis Cup.
However, after Yuki Bhambri has forced to pull out with a knee injury, Mahesh Bhupathi was left to select between the 43-year-old veteran Leander Paes and 37-year-old Rohan Bopanna, who last played a Davis Cup tie in 2016. It was speculated that either of Paes or Bopanna would be included in the team as the fourth member.
Rohan Bopanna is the India’s highest ranked men’s doubles player at the moment. He is ranked No.24 in the ATP men’s doubles charts. He would partner Balaji in the doubles rubber to be played on Saturday. Leander Paes is a Davis Cup veteran of 55 ties and with 42 doubles rubber wins.
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Paes, who is earlier in the reserve team for the Davis Cup, was trained for nearly three hours during the morning hours in the company of a couple of junior players and along with coach Zeeshan Ali. The 43-year-old worked on his serve for backhand returns, and the forehand shots as he worked it out at the KSLTA courts in Bangalore.
Paes arrived in the city last evening from Mexico amidst Mahesh Bhupathi refusing to reveal the doubles combo for the Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan. Paes flew in from Leon, where he had won his first Challenger title of the season, getting the doubles title in the $75,000 Challenger Tennis Tournament held on 1 April.
Gunneswaran and Ramanathan would pay the singles and reverse singles rubbers on Friday and Sunday respectively. Gunneswaran and Balaji are likely set to make their Davis Cup debut this weekend.