The move is something of a gamble as doubles has always been India’s strength.
New Delhi: India’s new non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi on Tuesday selected four singles players in the squad for the Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan, dropping veteran Leander Paes, on the cusp of becoming the tournament’s most successful doubles player, and Rohan Bopanna to the reserves.
The Uzbekistan match may well be the last chance for Paes, tied with Italy’s Nicola Pietrangeli on 42 wins, to claim the all-time record on home turf after losing the doubles against New Zealand with Vishnu Vardhan.
Ramkumar Raman-athan, ranked 269th, Yuki Bhambri (307), Prajnesh Gunneswaran (325) and N. Sriram Balaji (350) were the singles players named in the squad for the April 7 to 9 tie in Bengaluru.
The move is something of a gamble as doubles has always been India’s strength. Bhupathi, together with Paes, formed a formidable force in the Davis Cup and the ATP World Tour in late 1990s.
Bhupathi had earlier voiced his preference of naming only singles players in the squad. However, the tournament rules give him the option of changing two members before the commencement of the tie. Aita said the selection committee, in consultation with the captain, chose the team.
Vishnu Vardhan has been named as the seventh member for practice. Bhupathi said performance would determine the final team selection. “I have been tracking them. I need to reward results,” Bhupathi said but left the option open of bringing in Paes or Bopanna should the need arise.
Bopanna and Paes have fared disappointingly in the ATP doubles circuit after the announcement of the six-member squad, losing in the opening round of the Indian Wells Masters event and the Challenger event in Irving, the United States this year.
Bhambri has reached two semi-finals (Zhuhai and Shenzen) and won an ITF Futures in Chandigarh after the tie against New Zealand in Pune in February.
Ramanathan has struggled this season and managed just a win in the main draw of a Challenger event after the Pune tie.