Giving up all pretence of fielding India's best doubles teams at the London Olympics, the national tennis federation has, instead, come up with a compromise formula meant purely to massage the egos of the country's bickering veterans, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi.
Paes, ranked seventh in the world in doubles, has been paired with Vishnu Vardhan (rank 206) while Bhupathi (14) gets his wish to partner Rohan Bopanna (12).
To compensate Paes — who'd threatened to pull out of the Games just a day ago — he has been assured of partnering Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles, provided she gets a wildcard entry. Wild cards will be announced on June 28.Paes has refused to come around to the compromise formula unless he is given a written guarantee by Mirza and Bhupathi that they will not get together and leave him out.
The decision was taken without consulting Mirza, and ignoring the fact that she has won two Grand Slams partnering Bhupathi — the latest at the French Open just a week ago.
While Paes is the most dynamic grass court player of the lot and is likely to do well with Mirza, it's obvious the other players have scant regard or liking for him.
The federation looked to quell Paes' doubts by stating that the pairings are not subject to change as the entries have already been sent. It conceded that its decision was "not fair" in all respects but in the "best interest of the nation".
Paes, who remained incommunicado, can choose not to go but that seems unlikely.