Amritraj Sr. to speak his mind on players’ revoltMarch 3rd, 2008 - 12:18 am ICT by admin
Bangalore, March 2 (IANS) Tennis legend Vijay Amritraj Sunday refused to talk on the revolt of his son Prakash, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna against their captain Leander Paes, but promised to speak his mind out before the end of the the Bangalore Open women’s tennis tournament here. Asked for his reaction to the letter by Bhupathi, Prakash and Bopanna expressing their lack of confidence in Paes’ captaincy and his removal, Amritraj quipped: “I am not here for Davis Cup. I am here for Bangalore Open.”
“I am in no mood to make any comment right now. I will address the media on the issue sometime next week, may be Wednesday or Thursday,” he added.
Paes’ decision not to play Prakash and give rookie Somdev Dev Varman a chance in the opening singles in the Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan last month soured the relations between the players and the captain.
Paes questioned Prakash’s professionalism as he caught a stomach bug after birthday bash, Bhupathi also publicly defended the junior Amritraj, saying he was also present at the party and there was nothing unprofessional about it.
The US-based Indian later contradicted the captain, saying he was fully fit to play the opening tie.
Meanwhile, Amritraj, who is here as a part of commentary team of ESPN Star Sports, said it was disappointing to find Sania Mirza skipping a major event like Bangalore Open, and that too at home.
“It is unfortunate that Sania lost a wonderful opportunity to play against some of the world’s best players and perform well. It is disappointing that she is not playing here. I wouldn’t know why. I haven’t chatted with her, but what is important is when such an opportunity comes, she should grab it. I strongly recommend she plays in such tournaments.”
The 21-year-old Hyderabadi decided to stay away from the South-East Asia’s biggest prize money tournament with a revised prize money of $600,000 to evade off-court controversies that seem to chase her at home ever since her breakthrough season three years ago.
As someone who always supported players and fought for their cause, Amritraj said Sania had done a remarkable job in maintaining her world ranking at a high level (32).
“My feeling is when Sania plays against best players, she plays better. She had a wonderful game with Jelena Jankovic, ranked fourth in the world, at the Dubai Open last week. A match she should have won but lost narrowly.
“If you play those kinds of matches on your home turf, you have a better chance of winning. You also have support of the home crowd as well,” Amritraj noted.
Handing Sania the benefit of the doubt, the US-settled former Davis Cupper said the decision to play or not in an event was best left to individuals, as they have several things such as fitness, injuries, schedules and hectic travel, to take stock of.
“It is her decision whether to play or not, no-one should be forced. It is like having a chess tournament in India and grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand not playing, it is disappointing. In my days, if Prakash Padukone didn’t play a badminton tournament, it was considered a major disappointment,” Amritraj recalled.
Describing the event as the largest in the Indian sub-continent, Amritraj said it was the only tournament on the WTA Tour for this week and is a great honour for the country, especially Bangalore, to have so many top players coming over to participate.
“Such tournaments promote the game and inspire youngsters (girls and boys) to take to tennis in a big way. And for players like Sania, Shikha (Oberoi) or Isha (Lakhani), it is a wonderful chance to play at home.”
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