Seasoned coach SP Misra ended his stint as non-playing captain of the Indian Davis Cup team on a winning note on Sunday. Caught in the ‘crossfire’ between the players and the AITA, Misra was hurt when players said they did not want him as a coach. “I’m still puzzled by the remarks they made against me. I think I was caught in the crossfire. I even asked Somdev and other players, who said they had nothing personal against me. The last five years when they played under me, no one questioned my ability. They played well and delivered results. The remarks hurt me a lot.”
Misra took over from Leander Paes in 2008 and was captain for 12 matches, winning and losing six matches apiece. Excerpts...
On his last match
It was a great experience.The players wanted a change, I had to accept their decision. The full team of Somdev Devvarman, Leander Paes, Yuki Bhambri and Sanam Singh were there. I was received very well. The camaraderie was there and it showed in our easy 5-0 win against Indonesia. I will miss Davis Cup because in the last six years I was very much part of the team. I enjoyed my role. The players were comfortable under me, but now when the players don’t want you, what is the point in staying. I thought I had good innings and I said to myself let them have a new leader.
On the remarks
When it was said that I was not up-to-the-mark, it hurt me a lot because I captained for so many years and no one ever complained. I was doing my job seriously, I was not partial to anyone.
On the high points
The first year was difficult. I had taken over from Leander as he had to step down. We went to Bucharest where we lost to Romania badly. But from the second match onwards, things started to settle down. We went to the World Group twice, the first time we played in Russia and the second time in Serbia. That is a big achievement. Of course, beating South Africa in SA was one of the highlights and beating Brazil in Chennai after 0-2 down.
Leander is a natural doubles player. He can still make the ball dance to his tune. As long as he is fit, he can be a great service to the Indian team as he is very loyal to the Indian flag. I think if he is fit, he will be available for the next Olympics and Asian Games. He is looking at the record of playing the most Davis Cup matches, which is presently held by Italy’s Nicola Pietrangeli (164).
On the young side
They always play with a lot of passion when playing in DC and they know their roles. I’ve had one of the best Davis Cup teams - Leander, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev and Rohan Bopanna.
Somdev is on a comeback trail. He is moving very well on court and is focussed. He has climbed from 700-odd to 200-odd in the rankings and is going to be in top form in the next few months.
On the tussle
The AITA has to solve the problem of the players amicably.