I have Played My Last Match for India: Bhupathi
Mumbai, Sep 18 (PTI): In the twilight of his international career, 12-time Indian Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi today said that he had probably played his "last" match for the country.
At loggerheads with the All India Tennis Association (AITA) for a while, Bhupathi was last week slapped a two-year ban by the game's governing body.
"Unfortunately the reality of the situation is anyway I have played my last match for India," Bhupathi said at a press conference here.
Already 38, the tennis star felt that it would not be possible for him to represent the Indian flag after serving the 2-year ban, effectively bringing the curtains down on one of the country's best doubles player.
"I always feel like playing for India. Tennis is an individual sport and we barely get to represent the country once or twice a year. Two years is a long time," he stated.
Bhupathi also made it clear that 2013 will be his last year on the ATP tour. The multiple Slam winner said that he wasn't even sure if he would be able to play a full schedule next year.
"I am at the fag end of my career. Next year will definitely be my last on tour. I am not even sure whether I am going to play a whole schedule," he said.
Bhupathi along with his doubles partner Rohan Bopanna was banned for two years from representing the country by AITA, in what was a fallout of the well-chronicled embarrassing selection fiasco ahead of the London Olympics.
Feeling sorry for the way Bopanna got embroiled in the current controversy, Bhupathi said it was wise to part ways with his junior partner and allow him to play with someone as young as him in the future.
"It makes more sense for him to partner somebody as young as him for the next four five years," he said.
Bhupathi will partner Serbian-born Canadian Daniel Nestor in the next season.
Veteran tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi threatened to drag AITA to the court for ousting him from India's Davis Cup squad along with Rohan Bopanna, saying he was exploring if the national federation's move was legal.
All India Tennis Association (AITA) had banned Bhupathi and Bopanna from representing the country till June 30, 2014 on disciplinary grounds. AITA had taken the decision hours after India's young Davis Cup team took an unassailable 3-0 lead against New Zealand in Chandigarh on Saturday.
Bhupathi will address a press conference in Mumbai today to give his side of the story and reveal his next move. "Rohan has played for India for 10 years and I have played now for about 18 years now. And to get slapped with something like this, I take this as rough," Bhupathi said.
"We are exploring it, we don't know yet but I don't think what they have done and the way they have done it , is fully legal. So we are exploring it what they have done is right and obviously if not legal, we are gonna go after it," he added.
Asked if he felt the AITA action was because of personal vendetta, Bhupathi said " Ya, believe so". "It's been going on with me and association and heads of the federation for years now. I am just upset and afraid that my friend and partner Rohan has got caught in the middle of this dirty game. I have been quiet for a long time,"
AITA had chosen Bhupathi to play with Leander Paes at the London Olympics but both he and Bopanna refused the pairing and instead forced the AITA to pair them for the Games.
AITA had to accede to their demand at that time but has now taken the action saying it will not tolerate indiscipline. Both Paes and Somdev Devvarman had made themselves unavailable for the tie but AITA said their act did not amount to indiscipline as they had requested to be excused from the tie.