India snubs top-ranked players
Leander Paes is the only prominent player in a depleted Davis Cup squad announced Friday by the All India Tennis Association for the match against South Korea following an impasse with other players over their demands.
The AITA selected little-known VM Ranjith, Vijayant Malik and Purav Raja as the other members of the squad for the best-of-five series from Feb. 1-3.
The group of eight rebel players, including Somdev Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna and doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi, failed to confirm their availability in time for a selection committee meeting after threatening to sit out if their demands were not met.
The AITA agreed to most of the demands pertaining to team management and prize money this week, but the players still weren't satisfied.
The AITA named a new coach in former Davis Cup player Zeeshan Ali, fired team doctor Vece Paes and agreed to remove non-playing captain Shiv Mishra after the match against South Korea. It also announced an increase in the share of prize money for Davis Cup players.
However, the players said they were not happy with Ali as coach, wanted Mishra removed immediately and also wanted more transparency in financial matters.
The AITA also had tinkered with the idea of picking Prakash Amritraj, a 437th-ranked former Davis Cup player who could not play in the tournament after 2008 because of a sports ministry ruling that only Indian passport holders could represent the country.
But the AITA did not get a clearance from the sports ministry, which ruled that Amritraj, son of former player and commentator Vijay Amritraj, could not be picked as he continued to hold a U.S. passport.
Ranjith is the highest ranked singles player in the squad at 517th, while Malik is ranked 542nd. Raja is ranked 155th in doubles and is likely to partner with doubles specialist Paes, who is ranked third.