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Home / Tennis / Hope AITA brings Mahesh Bhupathi back: Sumit Nagal

Hope AITA brings Mahesh Bhupathi back: Sumit Nagal

The national federation appointed former Davis Cupper Rohit Rajpal to replace Bhupathi as India’s non-playing captain after he refused to travel to Islamabad for the November 29-30 Davis Cup tie against Pakistan.

tennis Updated: Nov 13, 2019 22:07 IST
Rutvick Mehta
Rutvick Mehta
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Sumit Nagal of India hits to Roger Federer of Switzerland.
Sumit Nagal of India hits to Roger Federer of Switzerland.(USA TODAY Sports)

India’s second-highest ranked singles tennis player, Sumit Nagal, hopes the All India Tennis Association (AITA) will reinstate Mahesh Bhupathi as India’s Davis Cup captain after the Pakistan tie, considering the rapport he has developed with players.

Last week, the national federation appointed former Davis Cupper Rohit Rajpal to replace Bhupathi as India’s non-playing captain after he refused to travel to Islamabad for the November 29-30 Davis Cup tie against Pakistan. But even as the International Tennis Federation shifted the tie out to a neutral venue hours after the announcement, AITA chose to stick with Rajpal, leaving Bhupathi fuming. The federation, though, countered that his contract was over anyway.

“I hope they (AITA) change things around and get him (Bhupathi) back. Right now they’re saying that it (Rajpal as captain) is for this tie. I hope things are different next year after the tie,” said Nagal who has been mentored by Bhupathi.

Appointed in December 2016, Bhupathi’s contract was till December 2018, which was extended till the tie against Italy in February this year. The 22-year-old Nagal says that in the intervening two years, Bhupathi has galvanised the players into a cohesive unit.

“Since Mahesh came in, he has made it a team. We do not make individual decisions now. He asks us, we speak up and then we decide as a Davis Cup group,” Nagal said. The world No 127 added that Bhupathi made it a point to communicate and guide the players throughout the season, and not just during the Davis Cup.

“He has created a WhatsApp group where he talks to each one of us about our game, scheduling or anything else. Ask any player whether Mahesh is involved and he will say yes. He is using his private time to help Indian tennis. He doesn’t have to answer our calls at 6am and help us with our game when he is only called up for Davis Cup duty. But he still does it,” he said.

Ramkumar Ramanathan, the best ranked Indian after Nagal, revealed how Bhupathi provided him with technical inputs before his doubles final with Purav Raja at the Kobe Challenger last Sunday, which the duo won.

“He told me to focus on my returns and to go more at the net. Just small things like these make a lot of difference. Mahesh was constantly teaching new things when he was with us at the Davis Cup, and is someone who has always been there for me,” Ramanathan said.