As if Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi pointing fingers at each other in the media was not enough, Indian tennis was thrown into another controversy after four Davis Cup players have reportedly refused to play in the next tie against Japan if Paes was continued as the team captain.
India's top two singles players -- Prakash Amritraj and Rohan Bopanna -- supported by Bhupathi and Karan Rastogi, who was not in the squad for the tie against Uzbekistan, have written to the All India Tennis Association saying they will not play under Paes and have made their grievances clear.
AITA chief Anil Khanna, on Sunday, confirmed to have received the letter.
Amritraj and Bopanna, while insisting that their stand had nothing to do with the earlier clashes between Paes and Bhupathi, said that the captain is putting his interests above the team's and taking credit by winning matches he has no business playing.
Paes played the live fifth rubber against Pakistan in 2006 and then against Kazakhstan last year in the relegation play-off matches to steer Indian to victory. Both times, the Indian captain played the No. 2 singles players of the teams -- Aqeel Khan and Dmitriy Makeyev .
"Prakash and I don't want to play under Leander. If he is the captain I will not play the Davis Cup," Bopanna was quoted as saying in Indian newspaper DNA.
"There is no need for him to come in and play reverse singles against Pakistan and Kazakhstan. He's insisting on playing the fifth match even against players we can beat."
"This man has taken the joy away from playing the Davis Cup," Amritraj said of India's most successful Davis Cup player.
Paes had chosen debutant Somdev Dev Varman over India No.1 Amritraj in the first singles against Uzbekistan in the recently concluded tie in Uzbekistan. Amritraj, termed "unprofessional" by his captain then came back to play the reverse singles and rescued India with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Farrukh Dustov.
That event was seen as the last straw in the growing unrest against Paes. The players have objected to Paes' critical attitude towards them in the press and believe he does not fulfill the larger role of a captain -- not encouraging or communicating with the teammates enough outside the Davis Cup weeks.