Somdev Devvarman on Wednesday, stoutly defended his decision to skip the Asian Games, saying "it did not make any sense" playing in Incheon for three weeks at a time when he was striving hard to get back into top-100.
Somdev said that his patriotism should not be questioned on the basis of this decision since he has given his all while doing the national duty in Davis Cup. (AITA not happy with Somdev's decision)
"It didn't make sense for my professional career to play," Somdev told PTI from Shangahi, where he is playing in an ATP Challenger tournament.
"I have had a tough year dealing with a few injuries unfortunately. My ranking has dropped but I am starting to feel good finally. Breaking into the top 100 is hard enough and by playing a three-week tournament mid season definitely doesn't make sense if my goal is to break back into the top 100," the country's top singles player said.
Somdev has been struggling since winning the Delhi Open in February as he has managed to win only six matches in 18 tournaments since then. As a result, he has dropped to 143 in singles rankings.
Asked if not representing the country would hurt his reputation, Somdev said he was "not worried about that at all".
"Everyone who knows me well or has followed my tennis, knows how much I fight every time I have played for the country. For everyone who plays or have been around in professional tennis, I know they understand my decision. Tennis is a very demanding sport. You play and travel full time and try and make a living under very tough circumstances.
"It's only people who don't know and have never been through the grind that will question me. They don't know what it takes to be a professional day in and day out and they don't understand it. And I can't blame them really. So with the actual tennis fraternity in India, I know all will be just fine," he said.
Somdev also claimed that he had informed AITA about his decision but the national federation still included him in the squad which was "ridiculous" on their part.
"I initially let them know about my decision around Wimbledon and still went ahead and picked me anyway. I don't really know what they are trying to get at," an irate Somdev said.
"Trying to convince me is one thing, and then just going ahead and putting my name in a squad when I have specifically asked to be excused is just ridiculous.
I have said it time and time again. They are not tennis players. They won't ever understand what it's like for us out there."
When quizzed about how he convinced himself that playing at the Asian Games would have hurt his rankings further, Somdev argued that representing the country was not easy.
"It's more than just that. Playing for the country takes a lot out of you emotionally. I haven't had a great season so far and have been dealing with a few injuries which have been unfortunate. So playing and travelling mid-season is far from ideal," the 29-year-old, who has been a hero of many memorable victories for the Indian team at Davis Cup, said.
Somdev said his commitment to country can never be questioned. "I am very committed to Davis Cup. Even the one tie (Korea) I voluntarily skipped was for a greater cause to improve conditions for the future. I am still very committed to Davis Cup.And that has nothing to do with AITA.
"I am very close with the captain and coach and all the players and staff and I enjoy my camaraderie with them and enjoy playing for the country. I certainly do not play for AITA," he said.