Communication between AITA and players needs to improve: Rohan Bopanna

Under the leadership of non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi, India’s top players, including Bopanna, decided against travelling to Pakistan for the tie citing security reasons.
File photo of Rohan Bopanna.(PTI)
File photo of Rohan Bopanna.(PTI)
Updated on Dec 06, 2019 05:49 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByRutvick Mehta

The Davis Cup tie between India and Pakistan might have ended, but the after-effects of the drama surrounding it is unlikely to die down any time soon. Rohan Bopanna—India’s highest-ranked tennis player at world No 38 in doubles—believes the All India Tennis Association (AITA) could have handled the situation better, like most controversies to hit Indian tennis in the past.

Under the leadership of non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi, India’s top players, including Bopanna, decided against travelling to Pakistan for the tie citing security reasons. After several dilly-dallying and delays, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) shifted the tie to Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan. Hours before that however, the AITA had already sacked Bhupathi as captain and brought in Rohit Rajpal.

Bopanna eventually pulled out of the tie due to a shoulder injury. Asked if the national federation could have done things differently, Bopanna told HT, “Absolutely, one-hundred-and-twenty-five thousand per cent. They (AITA) could have definitely handled the situation better. There have been so many things over the years which they could have handled better. But we can only move on and hope that it can improve and get better from how it is now.”

The 39-year-old felt that the key to sweetening the sour relationship between the players and the federation was developing a proper channel for talks. “It’s just that the communication needs to get better. That is the big thing which is lacking. If that improves, I think we can definitely see a lot more collective effort from the players and federation,” Bopanna said on the sidelines of the launch of ASICS shoe and race day t-shirt for the Mumbai Marathon.

Bopanna, who was the first to tweet in support of Bhupathi after his axing, said his former doubles partner managed to develop a rarely-seen camaraderie between the players during his three-year tenure as captain. “I don’t think we had it (camaraderie) so much 15-20 years ago,” Bopanna said. “He (Bhupathi) is always associated with the players, and is constantly in touch with them giving his inputs. Each player feels very comfortable with him. That is the biggest difference.”

Looking ahead, while Bopanna will continue his partnership with Canadian Denis Shapovalov on the ATP Tour, the Indian will look to play a few tournaments with compatriot Divij Sharan—with whom he won the 2018 Asian Games gold—leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “Our first aim will be to qualify (for the Olympics), get our rankings higher and then try and play as many tournaments together as we can,” Bopanna said.

He added that he would also love to play alongside Sania Mirza, who is set to make a competitive return from her two-year maternity break next month, at the Games. “If there is an opportunity again to play with Sania, I would love to take part in the mixed doubles with her. I’m really happy to see her back on the court,” Bopanna said.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022