Boycott not on players' minds, says Bhupathi
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Ahead of AITA's executive committee coming together to take a call on Somdev Devvarman's demands for a few changes with the Davis Cup set-up, Mahesh Bhupathi has denied that boycotting the February tie was on the players' minds.
Following Devvarman's mail to the association, there has been speculation that a few players might pull out of the tie next month if the demands are not met, but Bhupathi, whose availability for the tie has been sought by the federation, denied that it was the case.
"None of us players have used the word 'boycott' for the Davis Cup tie in February. Somdev (Devvarman) felt that there was scope for some changes and he took that up with the federation. No one who knows Somdev can question his professionalism or commitment. Our communication with the AITA was to ensure that they don't sit on our requests and understand that the urgency is such that a response on the changes that we are looking at is necessary before this tie," Bhupathi said.
Bhupathi also added that he doesn't see any possibility of players refusing to turn up for the New Delhi tie from February 1-3. "We will definitely play the tie. We will sit across a table and fix this," he said.
Meanwhile, the Executive Committee, which includes President Anil Khanna and Seceretary General Bharat Oza, will meet on Friday in Delhi to deliberate over the players' grievances. While they have already communicated to the players that they can't have a final call on home tie venues, the major bone of contention is going to be the overhauling of the support staff — the players have asked coach Nandan Bal and captain SP Misra to be replaced.
"I see some merit in the reasons that they have given for a change in support staff. So we may bring about new staff, we will give them the best coach we have, but we won't give in to the exact names that they have suggested. That would again mean allowing player preferences," AITA CEO Hiranmoy Chatterjee, said.