The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has sent out a loud and clear message to all professional players who pick and choose tournaments when it comes to representing India.
Rohan Bopanna was axed from the Davis Cup side since he pulled out of the Spain tie feigning injury, AITA sources have claimed.
Bopanna's opting out of the World Group Play-off tie in September 2016 did not go down well with the All India Tennis Association (AITA). It is widely believed in the AITA circle that Bopanna just made an excuse that he was injured.
Bopanna, known for his superior service skills on the Tour, on the final day of the tie, September 18, posted a video on Instagram, showing him enjoying a dance with his friends in a bar in Bangalore the previous night.
"We have not closed our eyes. If a player does not have that special feeling to play for the country, he does not deserve to be in the team. It was a crucial tie and we expect players to put up their hands and get ready for the challenge," an AITA insider, privy to the matter, told PTI.
The selection committee Chairman SP Misra insisted that Bopanna's pull out was not discussed at the meeting to pick team for New Zealand but said they had instructions to choose three singles players and a doubles specialist.
Bopanna (28) is higher-ranked than Leander Paes (59) but the veteran player was preferred over the former.
However, AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee did drop a hint that Bopanna's giving a miss to the Spain tie was an issue.
"All ex Davis Cup players are selectors. They discussed all matters including the past results against New Zealand and Rohan opting out of the Spain tie. After detailed discussion they have selected the team. I feel all concerned should honour and accept their decision," Chatterjee told PTI without elaborating much.
Bopanna defended himself, saying he indeed was injured and was not fit to play a five-setter if required.
"I am surprised somebody will think like that. Right after my mixed doubles at the US Open when I went to the physios there, they said some fluids were there and my knee was swollen so I had to take 10-day off. I gave an advance notice that I need to take 10-day off," he said.
Asked about the video of him dancing that he had posted, Bopanna said it did not mean he was fit to play a competitive match.
"For me to do one sprint of 100 metres, yes, I can do it but if I have to constantly serve and volley for five sets, it's not possible. I never said, I could not run, I could not walk, I could not jump. I was not 100 per cent fit.
As a tennis player that is where I am looking at it. Who knows if they call me to play singles like they did in Chandigarh? So I am looking at it as overall picture. They need to understand the player," explained Bopanna.