Tennis: Veteran Rubin Statham puts aside Tennis NZ beef for shot at Kiwi Davis Cup history

When Rubin Statham attempts to surpass Onny Parun's record of 30 Davis Cup match wins for New Zealand this weekend, he'll be doing so for his country, rather than its federation.

Last year, Statham made himself unavailable for a tie against Finland after a falling out with the country's governing body - Tennis New Zealand.

Despite that he's now back to face Bulgaria in Christchurch this weekend in a record 34th Davis Cup, with his sights set on a milestone 31st victory.

"I think this is my 19th year playing for New Zealand, so it's good to be back," Statham told Newshub.

The 35-year-old admits there's still lingering pain, after Tennis NZ rejected his proposal for additional funding, which would have afforded him and two teammates better preparation for their tie in Finland last September.

They went on to lose that tie in Helsinki, a result Statham believes may have been much different had the organisation agreed to the proposed financial boost.

"It would be nice to be heard a little bit more," Statham added.

That situation led to Statham making himself unavailable for New Zealand. But now he's back with a new perspective.

"I'm playing for New Zealand more so than playing for a federation," he noted. "Playing for your country and the people."

Statham's disappointment is of no concern to captain Kelly Evernden. In fact, he believes the break may have re-energised his star player.

"You know if you have something taken away from you that you really love and you really feel strongly," quizzed Evernden. 

"Having it taken away from you might be bloody good to get you back in the fold and make you really want to play again."

Statham says he hopes lessons are learned for New Zealand's new crop of Davis Cup players, like 24-year-old Ajeet Rai and 26-year-old KP Pannu.

"His experience is something that you can't buy," said Pannu.

And there's no sign of the finish line just yet for Statham, who insists he has plenty more elite level tennis left in his legs.

"I'm just getting started," he joked. "No, I'd like to play a few more, for sure."

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