Bopanna tells AITA won’t pair with Paes

LONDON: The crisis which has rocked the Indian tennis deepened Monday with Rohan Bopanna officially snubbing AITA’s offer to pair with Leander Paes for the men’s doubles event of the London Olympics.

After Bhupathi’s stubborn refusal to team up with Paes, Bopanna’s stand has put All India Tennis Association (AITA) in a fix after it made the controversial decision to nominate the long-feuding Lee-Hesh for the Games next month.

Bopanna wrote to AITA Monday morning, making it clear that he cannot combine with Paes although it is his “dream to represent India in Olympics”.

Bopanna said he was approached by the AITA with a request to pair with Paes as the AITA’s ‘second choice’ team.

“With all respect and humility, I have been unable to accept AITA’s offer and have communicated my decision to them in writing this morning,” Bopanna said in a statement.

Bopanna said the very basis of his forming a team with Bhupathi was to play in Olympics together and the tennis body not only knew about it, but encouraged them.

The big-serving player, who is in demand from both Bhupathi and Paes for the London Games, also said that he and Paes do not make a good pair and their partnership is unlikely to yield any result.

“Since the beginning of the year, I have partnered with Mahesh Bhupathi towards playing together as at team at the Olympics. This was communicated to the AITA at every step and we were encouraged to continue to play together.

“Having played alongside Leander Paes only twice during my career, I recognize that as a team we are under-prepared for the demands of the Olympics and, in good faith, I could not accept AITA’s offer that we play together.”

Bopanna conceded that his decision would not go down well with many but he won’t risk his professional integrity for a shot at the Olympics. “I understand that many might find this decision difficult to comprehend. However, my professional integrity will not permit me to make this compromise. I owe this to the partners I have played with in the past, Mahesh Bhupathi who I currently play with and those I will partner in the future. I will still be able to look each of them in the eye,” Bopanna said.

“I believe we are nothing but the product of our choices,” he said.

Taking a dig a Paes, who broke his partnership with Bhupathi last year to stay inside ATP top-10 with a different partner, Bopanna said he also could have taken an easy route by continuing his team with Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi but did not do that.

“In October 2011, I broke up an extremely successful partnership with Aisam Qureshi as I believed that Olympics preparedness required hard work and understanding between partners and the numerous little adjustments that make a team work.

“This was the toughest professional decision I have taken, as it signified an end to a great partnership and jeopardized a close friendship that was built over many years of struggle and, ultimately, success on the ATP Tour.”

“Having been ranked No. 8 in the world last year, I could have taken a far easier route to Olympics qualification – if that was my only goal – by continuing my existing partnership and aiming for a personal top-10 ranking.

“However, I am an athlete who believes that outcomes are a product of process and preparation. I also believe that successful partnerships of every sort require investment of time and emotions through the ups and downs, and that sporting partnerships are no different,” he said. -PTI

Tags: