To say the storm has passed Indian tennis is wrong. With less than a month to go for the Rio Olympics, one half of the men’s doubles pairing of Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes is clearly showing no signs of a thaw.
With the All India Tennis Association (AITA) virtually overruling Bopanna’s preferred choice of a partner --- Saketh Myeni --- and giving the diktat of pairing him with Paes for Rio, all eyes will be on the Chandigarh Club courts this Saturday when the two pair up for India in the Davis Cup tie against South Korea.
While optimists saw in it an opportunity to assess the chemistry between the two, Bopanna didn’t hold back when he expressed his disappointment and frustration.
“Whatever I said or say now won’t make a difference and it will not change the scenario,” he said on Monday, adding, “We have to stick with what options we have. We could wait and see how things pan out when Paes and I play as a team. Every day is a new day.”
Asked if the decision has had a mental effect on him, a sulking Bopanna shot back: “Do I have a choice? AITA did not even inform me. I heard from the media and I have not discussed about this with either the player (Paes) or anyone else. They have asked us to play together and as professionals we will be doing that in Davis Cup, and at Rio. We will go on the court as a unit and try to gel well.”
Indian tennis has often been mired in controversies when it comes to men’s and mixed doubles pairings for the Olympics. It happened before the London Olympics (2012), and with Bopanna showing his wounds were yet to heal, the Indian pair’s chances already look bleak.
Non-playing captain Anand Amritraj felt both Bopanna and Paes need to move on and focus on gelling well in Davis Cup, saying, “They could have played in Wimbledon also and gained momentum. The Davis Cup will be a good test for them but they will get just one match as a pair. Hope they can make the most of it. Both are playing well on grass.”
After the Davis Cup tie, Bopanna will play in the Toronto Masters Series from July 25 before he goes to Rio. Bopanna also sought AITA’s help on a practice partner, physio and coach for his Rio preparations.
“I hope AITA sends a physio and coach with me while I travel ahead of the Rio Games. I have been training with my foreign coach Scott Davidoff for five years. He will be with me in Toronto but not Rio.” added Bopanna.