Mahesh Bhupathi Flouted Selection Criteria, Says Leander Paes

An angry Leander Paes on Thursday lashed out at non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi, accusing him of flouting the selection criteria after being dropped from India's Davis Cup squad for the tie against Uzbekistan.

Paes hinted that his bitter relationship with Bhupathi may have been a factor in his omission.

It was the seasoned Rohan Bopanna, who has made the cut, despite Paes winning a Challenger title in Mexico only a few days back.

This is the first time that Paes has been dropped from Davis Cup team 27 years since he made his debut against Japan at Jaipur in 1990.

Leander PaesWhen I got here yesterday morning for practice, I was hitting and feeling the ball very well. The criteria was supposed to be form, which obviously doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems to fluctuate a lot.

Non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi with Indian Davis Cup team members Rohan Bopanna, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sriram Balaji at the draw ceremony for the tie against Uzbekistan, in Bengaluru on Thursday. (Photo: PTI)

While agreeing that Bhupathi has a right to chose his team, Paes advised him to not have personal bias against anyone.

Leander PaesAt one time, it is based on rankings and other times it’s based on likes and personal preferences. Sometimes it’s not on personal preferences, it is based on who plays deuce court and who plays on ad court. And now it is based on form. On form, you guys know better who has played better.

Despite winning the Leon Challenger at an altitude higher than Bangalore, Paes felt that his performance has not been taken into account.

Leander PaesBengaluru’s altitude is 920 metres. Leon’s altitude is over 1800 metres, which is double that of Bengaluru.

Paes felt humiliated that he was called all the way from Mexico, only to be dropped. He said all it needed was a phone call.

Leander PaesAll this nonsense should not be there. When it comes to playing for the country. I firmly believe in one simple phone call – you are needed, or you are not needed. As simple as that. It doesn’t have to be like this.

Leander Paes during a practice session ahead of the Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan in Bengaluru on Wednesday. (Photo: PTI)

Paes said the reason for him to come from Mexico for Davis Cup showed his unconditional love for the country and the sport.

Leander PaesMy love for the India flag, the country, and the people, is unconditional. Unconditional, no matter what. That is why I took the effort to come all the way here from Mexico, when I could so easily have worked on my ranking and my career.

Asked about his future from now on, Paes said he would work his way back and his passion to play for India will not be diminished by individuals.

Leander PaesI will work my way back again, and win like I did last year. I can guarantee that my passion for the sport and my passion to play for India is still within me. It does not get deterred by individuals.

Paes said he would also like to play more Davis Cup ties, alongside Challenger and other tournaments, which appear smaller than what he has played in and won.

Leander PaesSometimes you have to take things on the chin, throw your shoulders back and keep working hard. I would like to play more Davis Cups ties, whether I get calls or not. I will play Challengers and other tournaments which are small when you look at the career that I have had.

(With inputs from PTI)

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