New Delhi: Speaking to CNN-IBN on the latest row in Indian tennis, Mahesh Bhupathi says the players demands are not outrageous but the All India Tennis Association's (AITA) attitude isn't making things easy to end the stalemate.
Eleven of the top players from the country, including Bhupathi and Somdev Devvarman, refused to participate in the just concluded Davis Cup tie where Leander Paes led a team of rookies that lost 1-4 at home to South Korea last week. But Bhupathi said there is no damage inflicted on Indian tennis, which will see daylight again.
"We're all very disappointed with the result. But when you are trying to inflict a large amount of change, there are always big challenges that come across and this is one of the big hurdles we have to cross. Hopefully, this is the last time we have to deal with it. Hope we're able to sort out issues [with AITA] before our next [Davis Cup] tie.
"There is no damage going to be inflicted on Indian tennis. There is a reason we have taken a stance and there's a reason we are sticking to it. I am sure tennis will be better than what it is. We want to make sure that we do everything in our power to keep India in [Davis Cup] Group I."
The AITA has acceded to some of the players' demands such as replacing coach Nandal Bal with Zeeshan Ali. The national tennis body has also axed Dr Vece Paes and physiotherapist Sanjay Singh while promising to seek their replacements from the Sports Authority of India (SAI). The players' share in the Davis Cup prize money has also been increased. However, the revolting players remain adamant that all their demands be fulfilled and whatever AITA has agreed to should be intimated to them in writing.
"For some reason the AITA seems very comfortable communicating to us through the media but we're still waiting to get everything they have said they have given to us in writing. It seems very hard for them to do [that]...Unless we get it in writing, there is zero level of trust," Bhupathi said.
"We are not asking for anything outrageous...The sense is we are trying our best to do everything we can to find a way to work it out but it's not the sense we are getting from them [AITA]. As you can see, they have formed a committee, and it's a very AITA-biased committee. They have given them a 4-month window to come back with a report, while our next [Davis Cup] tie is 8 weeks away. But if they are not able to engage and come across the table and sort this out in 2 hours, then it's extremely hard for us to take the next step," Bhupathi said while being interviewed by CNN-IBN Sports Editor, Gaurav Kalra.
Bhupathi also refused to accept that he is leading a coup. "My Davis Cup career was over when they tried to impose a ban on me a few months ago. So I don't really have a second agenda or motive because I'm not even involved in this. Somdev riled the players up with all the concerns they have, during the Chennai Open, and they went after the association. They asked me to help them out and I stand with them because I have been going through this for 17 years."
The AITA has put together a three-member committee, including Justice Deepak Verma and former Davis Cupper Naresh Kumar, to resolve the issues, but the association's CEO Hornmoy Chatterjee said AITA has already offered whatever it could.
"They are trying to enter area to which they have no obligation and prerogative. A player cannot be an administrator, a selector and a player at the same time," Chatterjee said. "They want us to reconsider our proposal. They want us to agree to all of their demands. But whatever we have had to offer we have. We have extended out maximum support."