IMAGE: Rohan Bopanna partnered Leander Paes in India’s Davis Cup qualifier against Croatia, at Dom Sportova Hall in Zagreb, Croatia, on March 7, 2020. Photograph: Antonio Bronic/Reuters
Doubles exponent Rohan Bopanna retained his place in India’s Davis Cup team despite his recent run-in with the national federation, which named a five-member squad for the upcoming World Group I away tie against Finland.
Expectedly, all top three singles players of the country — Prajnesh Gunneswaran (ranked 158), Sumit Nagal (159) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (204) — have been picked for the September 17-18 tie, which will be held on indoor courts, at Espoo Metro Areena in Espoo city.
The AITA selection committee had a virtual meeting on Thursday to decide on the team.
Rohit Rajpal will be the non-playing captain of the side and Zeeshan Ali the coach.
Bopnna, ranked 40, partner in Divij Sharan, ranked 82.
The duo could not qualify for the ongoing Tokyo Olympics due to low combined rank.
In the last tie against Croatia, which India lost 1-3, Bopanna paired with Leander Paes.
Bopanna had accused All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) secretary general Anil Dhupar of misleading him and the nation by claiming that the ITF had accepted his and Sumit Nagal’s entry for the doubles competition of the Tokyo Games.
He made public his telephonic conversation with Dhupar, putting the audio recording on his Twitter page.
Finland has one higher-ranked singles player in Emil Ruusuvuori, who is placed 69th in the ATP chart, while it does not have a player inside top-100.
Finland also has two decent doubles players in Henri Kontinen and Harri Heliovaara, who are ranked 39 and 38 respectively.
Selection committee member Balram Singh said the recent controversy regarding Bopanna was not discussed by the members.
“There are former players in the committee and they know the value of a doubles rubber point in Davis Cup. Rohan, being our top player, was a natural choice,” Balram said.
“It was just a matter of misunderstanding that a controversy erupted,” he said.
The winner of the tie will qualify for the Qualifiers in 2022 while the losing teams will compete in the play-offs to retain their place in World Group I next year.