Paes too great a player to be kept in reserves: Mukherjea

Indo Asian News Service

Kolkata, March 29 (IANS) For all his achievements over the years, it is not right to make Leander Paes sit on the bench during India's Asia Oceania Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan to be played in Bengaluru from April 7, former India Davis Cup player Jaideep Mukherjea said on Wednesday.

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) on Tuesday kept Rohan Bopanna and Paes in the reserves for the Davis Cup game with non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi and chairman of the selection committee choosing the likes of Ramkumar Ramanathan, Yuki Bhambri, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sriram Balaji instead.

"Leander is too great a player to be kept in the reserves," Mukherjea, one of India's most successful doubles players, told IANS on Wednesday.

"For what he has done for the country over the years and the amount of laurels he has brought, he is either in or out," he added.

Paes is set to become the tournament's most successful doubles player and the Uzbekistan match could have well been his last chance to claim the all-time record on home turf after losing the doubles against New Zealand with Vishnu Vardhan.

Paes is currently tied with Italy's Nicola Pietrangeli on 42 wins.

Mukherjea though felt that the team has been picked on the basis of current form and it was time to give the young players a chance.

"They (AITA) should have been bold enough to say it on his (Paes) face. There is no point keeping him on reserves."

"I feel it's time to give youngsters a chance and the team has been picked on the basis of the players' current form. I completely agree with the selection," Mukherjea said.

Bopanna and Paes fared poorly 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, US.

The four team members, meanwhile, have had a mixed bag leading up to the Davis Cup.

Bhambri 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 struggled this season and managed just a win in the main draw of a Challenger event after the Pune tie.

Balaji has been consistent, reaching three singles finals.

He won a title (Jorhat) and ended runner-up to Bhambri (Chandigarh) and Prajnesh (Bhilai) recently. He also won three doubles Futures titles.

Gunneswaran has had less game time but won the Bhilai Futures title also losing in the first qualifying round of the ATP 500 Dubai Championships and the final qualifying round of the Kyoto Challenger.

--IANS

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