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Tennis | Davis Cup

Somdev Devvarman © Gallo Images

Davis Cup row deepens in India



India's Davis Cup campaign was thrown into turmoil on Friday after a stand-off between players and administrators worsened ahead of next month's tie against South Korea.

Eight players, headed by Somdev Devvarman, threatened to boycott the Asia-Oceania first-round tie in New Delhi from February 1-3 if a slew of demands made by them were not accepted.

The demands include better distribution of Davis Cup prize money, a change in the squad's support staff, a fulltime physiotherapist and the players' involvement in the choice of venues for ties.

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) said it could not accommodate all the demands, and insisted those players who did not accept a proposed disciplinary code will not be considered for selection.

The players issued a statement on Friday saying they are "regrettably, unavailable for selection" unless the AITA is willing to consider what they feel are "legitimate suggestions".

"We wish to emphatically state that all of us are united in our stand against certain practices observed in the management of the Davis Cup squad," the players' statement said.

"We are not looking to challenge the authority of the AITA, but are making a genuine attempt to change things for the improvement of Indian tennis."

Devvarman added: "If, in our opinion, the AITA's response is unfair, I will stand united with the rest of the players and continue on our pursuit for changes in the system."

AITA chief executive Hironmoy Chatterjee said his federation had already spoken with the players, but insisted indiscipline would not be tolerated.

"They have put forward their suggestions and we will consider them," Chatterjee said. "But I don't think we can accept all their demands. Also we can't force anyone to play."

The AITA selection committee is due to meet on January 11 to pick the squad for the Korean tie.

Among the eight players supporting Devvarman's stance are senior players Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, but former captain Leander Paes is not part of the group.

Trouble also erupted ahead of the London Olympics last year when both Bopanna and Bhupathi declined to partner Paes at the Games for what they said were personal and professional reasons.

The AITA had initially named the veteran duo of Bhupathi and Paes for the doubles, even though Bhupathi wanted to play with his then partner Bopanna.

The organisation was forced to pick two doubles teams for the Olympics, with Paes pairing lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan, and Bhupathi partnering Bopanna.

Both pairs fell in the early rounds at the Games.

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