Mahesh Bhupathi speaks during a press conference, to clarify his position after he was handed a two-year ban from representing his country last week, in Mumbai. AFP/Indranil Mukherjee
Mahesh Bhupathi is considering taking legal action against the All India Tennis Association’s “ban” against him and Rohan Bopanna, and is pondering whether the Indian Olympic Association or the sports ministry can intervene and overturn the decision.
He won’t go down without a fight. Though, the fight for donning the India jersey again, as far as Bhupathi is concerned, is already over.
“Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that I have played my last match for India,” the 38-year-old told a press conference in Mumbai on Tuesday.
“First they (AITA) have announced this ban, and even if we (him and Bopanna) succeed to revert it, there's no way we will be discussed at selection meeting," he said.
Bhupathi also announced that 2013 would be his last year on the pro tour. “I am getting old,” he said, affording himself a smile.
The usually clipped tone was ditched for the day as Bhupathi took the AITA, and particularly its president Anil Khanna, to task for the state of affairs of Indian tennis.
The tennis federation had, on Saturday, said that they would not consider Bhupathi and Bopanna for national selection to “discipline” them for the role the duo played in the selection fiasco before the London Olympics.
“Apparently there is an ethics committee which has made the decision, but we know all the decisions are made by only one man. It is a dictatorial rule. He hides behind these ethics and executive committees to deflect the blame. It is not about any of the committees. It (the decision to ban) is personal between two people, and unfortunately, I am one of them.”
Bhupathi blamed the “lack of communication and transparency” during the whole selection process for the drama that ensued before the Olympics.
“If they had made it clear in March itself that the top player gets his pick all this would not have happened.”
Putting his feud with Paes on the backburner, Bhupathi avoided dragging his former partner into the controversy. “My problem with Leander was a separate matter. He is not to be blamed for any of this.” Though he insisted that Khanna flogged the Paes-Bhupathi horse in public to meet his own ends.
“Leander and I have, in the past, put our differences behind and played for the country. There was no effort this time to get us in the same room and sort out them out.”
The road ahead, Bhupathi admits, is a little foggy given that they would have to first beat out the details on whether AITA can be taken to court.
“We are considering that (legal option) but we are still not confirmed about it. To be honest, at this point I don’t really know whom to complain to or what is the solution to this.”
When asked about whether Bopanna would be a part of the fight against the AITA, Bhupathi said he had consciously kept the younger player out of the cross-fire.