India's new Davis Cup captain Anand Amritraj says that he feels veteran Mahesh Bhupathi, who is all set to retire this year, should get a farewell tie but made it clear that it was not in his hands to decide on the matter. Bhupathi has said that he will play a few select tournaments before hanging his racquet and Wimbledon championship is likely to be his last competition as a player. At that time he will be 40.
Bhupathi is not in the current team, which will take on Chinese Taipei from Friday, as higher-ranked Rohan Bopanna (13) is the lone doubles specialist in the team. If India manage to win this Group I tie, they will play Korea in an away tie in April. The selectors keep rankings in mind while choosing the squad and unless Bhupathi, currently placed 38, has some outstanding results, his ranking will not improve.
Amritraj, who is captaining the side for the first time in non-playing role, says personally he would like to see Bhupathi playing one last time for the country in Davis Cup since he has served the country for so long. "It's not my decision entirely. On a personal level, I think he should have a farewell tie. But it's not only my decision. It's entirely up to the selection committee to decide on this," Amritraj told PTI after team's practice session.
Since Leander Paes has excused himself from the national duty in 2014, there is a possibility that AITA can team Bhupathi up with Bopanna for the Asian Games, scheduled for September 19-October 4 this year in Incheon, South Korea.
Amritraj said it cannot be said if Bhupathi will make it to the Indian squad at that time. "Asian Games is possible but we will have to wait and see in September. We don't know if he will continue playing (till that time)," he said.
Bhupathi has not played for India in Davis Cup since September 2011. He was banned by AITA on the grounds of indiscipline along with Bopanna but that ban was stayed by Karnataka High Court, paving the way for latter's return to Indian team on merit.
Talking about the tie at hand, Amritraj said it would be mistake to take Taipei team lightly despite the visitors not having their two top players -- Yen-Hsun Lu and Jimmy Wang -in the side. "I don't think it's that easy. It is going to be a tough match. Obviously, it could have been lot tougher if Lu and Wang were there. But even without them then, it will be very very interesting tie. It's not going to be like Indonesia in April because these guys are lot tougher than that. We are definitely favoured to win but having said that it will still be quite a tough tie.
"We need to win three matches, it is 3-0 or 3-1 it does not matter. I am confident we will win," the 61-year-old added.
Amritraj, who reached men's doubles semi-finals at the 1976 Wimbledon along with his brother Vijay, said since most of the players prefer playing on medium speed courts, surface is hardly an advantage for India despite it being a home tie. "They too like these courts. These are medium-paced hard courts. It's not like older days when we used to play on grass courts where it was a definite advantage for us and disadvantage for them in the 1970s and 80s. But now these are the same courts which top players like, it's also their surface.
"It's very even playing field. I think they will play well and we need to play better," he said.
The skipper said confidently that the team was gelling well ahead of the matches. "It's all going very well. We came here on Sunday. We have spent lot of time together. We came early so that we can have team bonding. We are practising hard and working hard."