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No change in Lee-Hesh team: AITA

sports Updated: May 21, 2008 14:26 IST

PTI
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All India Tennis Federation on Wednesday categorically turned down Mahesh Bhupathi's proposal of teaming up with Rohan Bopanna instead of Leander Paes for the Beijing Olympic Games, saying there would be no change in the team.

Continuing his flip-flop on combining with Paes to represent India in the upcoming Olympics, Bhupathi wrote an e-mail to AITA, saying there was no point in playing with Paes "without communication and preparation" and he would rather like to partner Bopanna in the quadrennial event.

But AITA Secretary Anil Khanna asked Bhupathi to keep the country's interest in mind while making it clear that only "the best" team which has already been announced would be sent to compete at the highest level.

"AITA's position is extremely clear. We have already nominated their names as a team on February 28," Khanna told PTI.

"Olympic is bigger than Davis Cup. Only best players compete there and in India they (Bhupathi and Paes) are the best. Bopanna is still to reach that level. So there will be no change in the team.

"Mahesh should keep the country's interest in mind. I request Leander and Mahesh to forget the differences and come together to play for the country," he said.

Asked why did not AITA mediate between the players when they were in incommunicado for the last one month, Khanna said "this all sounds good only in a sound byte. Eventually the players have to make their plan and work out schedule by coordinating with each other".

Bhupathi and Paes were seen together during the Olympic torch relay in the capital last month, showing their solidarity to the Olympic spirit.

But Bhupathi said in the e-mail that he had no communication with Paes since Doha Asian Games, when the two openly hurled verbal volleys against each other. Bhupathi had also announced that he would never play with Paes in future but softened his stand and now changed his mind again.

"There has been absolutely no communication between Leander and myself since the Doha Asian Games even though I have reached out at various times through different avenues," Bhupathi wrote.

"Four years ago, even though we were not playing together we decided to put country first, made an effort to talk, built a team and played some events on Tour in preparation.

"Despite doing all that we lost a heartbreaker for the bronze, which personally took me a long time to get over. I was willing to give it a shot again. You assured me you (AITA) would make it happen, but seeing that I've received absolutely no communication from either you or Leander in the last four weeks, I'm guessing it's not on the agenda.

"We are not magicians. A medal will not happen just because we step on court," he said.

Indian Olympic Association General Secretary Randhir Singh told PTI that Khanna spoke to him for a fortnight-long camp before the Olympics.

"Anil Khanna spoke to me about a 15-day camp before the Olympics. There is nothing to be reinvented between them. They just need some practice together before the Games," he said.

"They are the best players. They have been the world number one. I request them to play their best for the country. I firmly believe they have a great chance to win a medal in Beijing," he added.