Mahesh Bhupathi backed his mixed doubles partner at Wimbledon, Sania Mirza, agreeing that the Indian women's star was “used” without being consulted by the All India Tennis Association while firming up the Olympics line-up.
On Tuesday, Mirza was given a wildcard in the women's doubles at the London Olympics, thus making her eligible for the mixed doubles event as well.
The AITA had already sent her entry with Leander Paes, a situation Mirza wasn't too happy with as she lashed out at the tennis body as well as Paes in a hard-hitting statement to the press.
“She was used without even being consulted as to what her best options are,” Bhupathi said on Wednesday.
Though Paes, at world No 7, is a higher-ranked doubles player than Bhupathi, the latter has partnered Mirza regularly at the Grand Slams. The duo also won the French Open.
“We have a good record. Recently we won the French Open together. As far as I am concerned, I stand by Sania and think we are the best mixed doubles pair. Obviously, she issued a very emotional statement and I totally understand where it is coming from.”
The AITA, meanwhile, came up with its response defending the selection.
“As regards selection of teams, the selection committee on 21st June, the last date for nomination, noted that Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna had made themselves unavailable for selection with Leander Paes despite efforts of AITA," the tennis federation said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The committee, thereafter, selected world No 7 and India No 1 Leander Paes to partner world No 12 and India No 1 Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles Olympics event. With a combined ranking of 19, they were placed ninth among the top 12 teams to be eligible for mixed doubles. This selection is purely on merit as stated hereinabove,” the statement added.