Rio 2016 Olympics: Rohan Bopanna not keen to partner Leander Paes; final decision with selection committee

Rohan Bopanna not keen to partner Leander Paes, says AITA officials; team selection for Rio Olympics on Saturday.

Written by Mihir Vasavda | New Delhi | Updated: June 11, 2016 2:43 pm
rio olympics, rio 2016, rohan bopanna, bopanna, leander paes, paes, india tennis, indian tennis, olmypics 2016, olympics, tennis news, tennis Leander Paes (L) and Rohan Bopanna do not enjoy a coordial relationship. (Source: File)

In a repeat of the fracas that preceded London Games four years ago, the rift within the Indian tennis fraternity was exposed once again. On Friday, Rohan Bopanna, it was learnt, informed the All India Tennis Association (AITA) that he does not want to partner Leander Paes, country’s most successful doubles players, at the Rio Olympics this August. (Full Coverage: Rio 2016 Olympics)

Also Read: Paes says doesn’t want London repeat

Bopanna achieved the top-10 doubles ranking earlier this week, which gave him automatic qualification for the Games. According to International Tennis Federation (ITF) guidelines, Bopanna was eligible to select a partner of his choice. In a statement shared with the media today, he didn’t mention any name but asserted his right to pick his partner. However, AITA officials, on condition of anonymity said that the 36-year-old had opted for Saketh Myneni, ranked 126 in doubles, instead of World No.49 Paes.

Also Read: Paes’ dream hinges on Bopanna

Bopanna’s letter said: “A Direct Acceptance provides me the right to nominate my men’s doubles partner, an opportunity for me to exercise my judgement as to the best possible partner for me. I have, earlier today, communicated my decision to the AITA. I am looking forward to the support and good wishes of all concerned in the lead up to the Olympics.”

A senior AITA office bearer said Bopanna lacked the understanding of rules. “He does not know the selection process. By being in top 10, only he is assured of a place in the Olympics; not his partner. If the AITA feels the suggestion he has made isn’t in best interest of the nation, we will over-rule it,” the official said. “There is no doubt Paes and Bopanna is the best choice we have in doubles. We will try to convince him.”

The official added that the final decision rests with the selection committee that will meet on Saturday. Soon after learning about Bopanna’s decision, AITA’s top bosses met sports secretary Rajiv Yadav to update the ministry of their predicament. The sports ministry, however, has informed AITA they wouldn’t interfere in selection matters.

With Bopanna not naming Paes as his partner, old wounds have reopened. Back in 2012, three players – Bopanna, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza – weren’t keen to partner Paes. Sania eventually gave in but this time, she is no mood to budge and she has already informed AITA that she would prefer Bopanna as her partner in mixed doubles.

But even Sania might be asked to have a rethink. A source said there is a possibility that Bopanna could be overlooked in favour of Paes. However, considering that combined ranking of players will play a crucial role in determining the mixed doubles teams, whether AITA can ignore Bopanna or not remains to be seen.

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  1. C
    Jun 11, 2016 at 8:04 am
    Rohan Bopanna is guided by his not so good personal relationship with Leander than national interests. The Tennis Federation should intervene and ensure that the best players go to the Olympics as Leander is in good form and highly motivated to win another medal in the Olympics.
    1. J
      Jun 11, 2016 at 8:05 am
      I just wanted to remind that national team has to be selected on the basis of merit, there is no option of someone’s liking or disliking. That does not mean that Bopanna and Sania has to partner with Leander only. If there is any sports related reasons not to partner with Leander like it would be good to have someone left hander with Bopanna and Leander is not, then it is all-right. But it is absolutely unsporting atude to say I don’t like to play with some particular player or players. I understand you get privilege and no doubt that’s your credit but that does not mean that you demand anything. There is no place of personal interest as per national team is concern. Be aware that you are representing India in Olympic arena. There is no entry into Olympic sports in a personal level.
      1. M
        Jun 11, 2016 at 6:34 am
        Both Bopanna and Sania have earned their place! It is upto them to decide the best partner for them. Their is no doubt that they want to win this medal as badly (or may be even more) as anyone else in this;br/gt;Agreed that Leander has brought us the only medal, but that doesnt mean he will be the only one who can bring one. Last time we sacrificed our mixed medal for his sake. Its time we start thinking abt winning, rather than pacifying some one.
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