'We won't play against Japan if Paes not replaced' | sports | Hindustan Times
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'We won't play against Japan if Paes not replaced'

sports Updated: Feb 29, 2008 15:39 IST

PTI
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Doubles ace Mahesh Bhupathi on Thursday made it clear that he and other two Davis Cuppers will not play against Japan in April if Leander Paes remains the captain of the team.

Bhupathi, who supported Rohan Bopanna, Prakash Amritraj and Karan Rastogi in revolting against Paes' leadership, said their playing against Japan depend on whether a senior player replaces Paes as a non-playing captain of the team. Rastogi, however, later retracted from his stance against Paes.

"We have to wait and see, we have taken a strong stance and as of now I don't think we will play (against Japan) until a senior player is made a non-playing captain," Bhupathi said when asked what would they do if AITA decides to retain Paes as captain. A miffed Bhupathi also came down heavily on the AITA for its inept handling of the issue.

"It is disturbing that nobody (from AITA) called them (Bopanna and Prakash) after the letter. It (the letter) leaked out somehow from the AITA office and it has become a media frenzy since then," he said. "You have all the tennis pundits in the country commenting on the issue without knowing the crux of the problem. "We don't want to hold a gun to anyone's head but someone has to take the initiative and I think that is Association's job and they have not done that yet. "A couple of phone calls from somebody from AITA to each one of these boys will be good start," he told NDTV.

Bhupathi said the problem was that the boys wanted a non-playing senior captain and he agreed with them. "I know Leander for a long time, he has some very good qualities especially as a leader. But, he has to play singles, doubles and has to worry about the team also, literally too much on his plate.

"A non-playing captain can focus on the job at hand in captaincy like talking to the media, so on so forth. What the boys really want is a non-playing captain and their stance was very clear," the multiple Grand Slam winner said.

Bhupathi was hopeful that a solution could still be worked out before going to Japan and the country should field the best team there and said he had no problem on Paes being in the team.

"The ideal situation is we face Japan with a full strength team and that will mean Paes, me, Bopanna and Amritraj playing as Japan is an Asian powerhouse in tennis. I think we can find a way to resolve everything. I think four of us playing under a senior captain would be a ideal situation," he said.