Two teams to London Olympics increasingly looks like the best way out of the raging tennis row. On Monday, sports minister Ajay Maken endorsed the idea as Rohan Bopanna, too, refused to partner Leander Paes for the next month’s event.
“The justification of denying two players, who have qualified as a team on merit, by sending just one team when India can send two may be explained,” the minister said in a letter to the All India Tennis Association (AITA). The AITA has a day to reply and India two to send the names to the International Olympics Association.
AITA picked Paes and Bhupathi even after the latter made it clear that he didn’t wish to play with his former partner.
An upset Bhupathi asked the minister to intervene. “We failed to understand how... putting together a combination of two players who haven’t played together in months serves the interest of the country,” the 12-time Grand Slam winner wrote.
After Bhupathi refused to play with Paes, AITA approached Bopanna. “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 Monday.
He pointed out that he broke a successful partnership with Pakistan’s Aisam Qureshi to build an on-court rapport with Bhupathi with the Olympics in mind.
The big-serving player said he had played with Paes only twice and “as a team we are under-prepared for the demands of the Olympics”.