New Delhi: Changing its stance towards Somdev Devvarman's pulling out of the Asian Games squad, the AITA today said it upports the step taken by the top singles player of the country.
AITA President Anil Khanna said the body understands that it was important for Somdev to be in the top-100 chart and if he again succeeds in getting into that elite bracket, that would also be a "service to the nation".
"The captain (Anand Amritraj) has supported Somdev's decision and we endorse that," Khanna told reporters. "Somdev has served the nation in the Davis Cup. He has won two gold medals at the Asian Games and if he reaches the top-100 and play at Grand Slams, that would also be a service to the nation. Top 100 players make money in tennis and our players need to earn money. Somdev has our support," he said.
Anand Amritraj too has backed the World No.143 Devvarman in his decision.
“You also need to realise that by making the first round of a Grand Slam, a player earns approximately $45,000. So if you qualify directly for all four Majors you straightaway earn around $180,000 in a year and if you progress further in the rounds then you earn more,” added Khanna.
A first round loser of men’s or women’s singles at Australian Open earns Australian $30,000, at French Open 24,000 euros, at Wimbledon 27,000 pounds and at the US Open $35,574.
Questions were also raised regarding Devvarman’s commitment towards his country vis-à-vis the Asian Games to be held from Sep 19 to Oct 4. However, Khanna fully supported the 2010 Commonwealth Games champion.
“He has won two golds for India at the Asian Games in the past. By playing the Tour events, by reaching the top-100 he is also doing service to the nation,” said Khanna.
Khanna's comments have come two days after AITA had termed Somdev's decision as incorrect and disappointing. Asked if AITA was aware of Rohan Bopanna's availability for the Asian Games, Khanna said the captain was communicating with the players.
Bopanna is learnt to be weighing the option of whether to skip the Asian Games for the ATP tour, where he can earn valuable ranking points during that period. Somdev, who has dropped out of top-100 chart and consequently missed out on a direct entry into the US Open, has decided to play on Tour to improve his rankings.
Asked what forces players such as Somdev to say that they play for the nation and not for AITA, Khanna said the players indeed turn up only for the country.
"We as a Federation only represent the country and we just name the team, the players do not play for us but for the country," he said. In lighter vein, Khanna said they are hoping that world number 1 Novak Djokovic would reach the US Open final and thus would not play in the play-off tie against India, enhancing the country's chances of qualifying for the elite 16-nation World Group.
"Team is geared up for the tie, let's keep the moralehigh," he concluded.