If the All India Tennis Association was hoping that Mahesh Bhupathi would eventually come around and give in to their initial proposal that he and Leander Paes represent India in men’s doubles at the Olympics, the 38-year-old dispelled those notions on Sunday.
In a detailed mail to the tennis body, Bhupathi listed the reasons he will not share the court with Paes.
“Leander Paes chose to voluntarily break apart our combination at the end of 2011, despite knowing 2012 was an Olympic year and despite a strong 2011 on our part. Being privy to this, the AITA did not step in once at any point in the last 8 months to say no matter what we will be need to partner each other in London.”
“There is a total absence of trust and communication between Leander Paes and myself. Without this, how can a doubles team draw on the intangibles needed at important moments in a match?”
As of Sunday, several members of the AITA were also trying to woo Bopanna to step up to the plate.
“You know Mahesh is refusing to partner Leander. The deadline for the entries is 21st June. In that case, the second-choice team for all concerned was you and Leander,” an AITA official is known to have written in an email to Bopanna.
“I would therefore advise you to put differences aside and accept this once in a life-time opportunity and grab it with humility and honour in the service of the nation.”
Though Paes also, in his official statement on Friday, suggested that Bopanna was his first choice for the Games, the two have limited experience of playing as a team.
More importantly, it remains to be seen whether Bopanna can set aside his differences with Paes, and camaraderie with Bhupathi, and fall in line with AITA’s request. Sources from the Bopanna camp suggest he is unlikely to.