Indian selectors have picked a Leander Paes-Mahesh Bhupati combination as the country’s one men’s doubles tennis team for the London Olympics, but Bhupathi has said he can’t go.
All India Tennis Association (AITA) was in for a rude shock on Friday when Mahesth Bhupathi refused to partner Leander Paes at the London Olympics.
This was after AITA decided to go ahead with Paes-Bhupathi combination as against Bhupathi’s proposed pairing with Rohan Bopanna. The AITA decision came after a prolonged meeting of the selectors in Bangalore.
Following AITA’s decision, Bhupathi and Bopanna issued a joint statement condemning AITA’s stand. Their statement said, “We have repeatedly and consistently communicated to the AITA our desire to only be considered for selection as a team and not as individuals to be paired with any other players. This was on the basis that we are a team legitimately entitled to a Direct Acceptance to the Olympics by virtue of our rankings. It is indeed disappointing that the AITA has chosen to disregard our request.”
“We believe that ignoring a combination that is fully committed, dedicated and prepared is an unjustifiable compromise. To not send one of the best tennis teams in the world to the Olympics – and to, instead, choose to nominate one that has had four previous unsuccessful attempts – fails to put the interests of the nation first. Moreover, choosing to send only one team when India was entitled to two denies two highly accomplished players of the privilege and opportunity to represent the country at the Olympics. This is a sad day for Indian tennis from all perspectives.”
“We are sure that there have been multiple considerations leading to this decision but are hopeful that better sense will prevail before the ITF’s team nomination deadline of June 21, 2012. We will continue to make our case to all concerned over the next few days.”
“We have no further comments at this time,” concluded the statement.
Leander Paes, who is ranked among the top-10 in the ATP circuit, earned a direct enter to the Olympics by virtue of his rank. However, Bhupathi has made it clear to AITA that he will not play alongside Paes and wanted to Bopanna as his partner.
Bhupathi and Bopanna too, with a combined ranking of 26, can easily enter the men’s doubles draw but AITA was keen to pair one of them with Paes.
Earlier, Bhupathi had said that he will appeal to the sports ministry against AITA’s decision of not pairing him with Bopanna at the Olympics.