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Davis Cup camp in Kolkata from Jan 23: Bhupathi

Kolkata: India Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi said the preparatory camp for the qualifier against Italy will start here on January 23.

Speaking at the start of the third Premjit Lall Invitational Tennis tournament on Thursday, Bhupathi said he is undecided about whether India will field five or six players for the tie which will be the gateway to a Davis Cup in a new format, one which takes home advantage out of the equation.

Unlike Jaidip Mukerjea, who was Bhupathi’s Davis Cup captain and critical of the new format earlier, Bhupathi said he has no comment on this.

“It is what it is. It doesn’t matter what I or anyone thinks. As a Davis Cup captain, I will play by the rules. That said, it is a pleasure to be back in Kolkata where I made my Davis Cup debut (in 1995 against Hong Kong),” said Bhupathi.

“It is sad that Kolkata hasn’t hosted a Davis Cup in all this while (after the Asia-Oceania tie against New Zealand in 2003) but with Somdev (Devvarman) becoming India’s No.1 player, grass was not an option. But with the kind of players we have now, grass gives us the best option,” said Bhupathi.

Doing away with five sets in Davis Cup rubbers is good when India play a team like Italy whose top player Fabio Fognini is world No. 13, said Bhupathi. “We played China in three sets and against such a team, three-setters don’t help.”

Asked whether he felt India was conspicuous by its absence on the WTA Tour, Bhupathi, who was instrumental in getting one to the country, said: “When you trying to promote a sport, you need someone as a face. If badminton is on it’s way up, it is because Saina (Nehwal) was followed by (PV) Sindhu and then (Parupalli) Kashyap. We did it to help Sania (Mirza) go up the rankings. I am sure when the time is right, India will be on the Tour again.”

For all the mushrooming of private leagues, India has one ATP Tour event in Pune. There are 14 WTA Tour events in Asia but none in India.