After flip-flop,AITA bows to Leander: only one team

AITA says keeping Paes,the top-ranked player,out of the Olympics is unthinkable.

Written by Smriti Sinha | New Delhi | Published: June 21, 2012 3:27:50 am

Hours after Leander Paes threatened to pull out of the London Games following an indication from the All India Tennis Association (AITA) that Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna would be one of two teams at the Olympics,the tennis body went back to its decision of fielding only one “best pair”.

Justifying the decision,AITA president Anil Khanna said keeping Paes,the top-ranked player,out of the Olympics was unthinkable.

“If we send Mahesh and Rohan as a team,Leander will withdraw. That means only one team will go and we want our best player,Leander,to be a part of that one team,” Khanna said late on Wednesday evening.

Earlier in the day,Paes had set his condition for partnering a lower-ranked player — that he would do so only if Bhupathi and Bopanna did not also get to play the doubles as a team.

“On the basis of merit,I deserve to be there and I am still willing to play with Mahesh or Rohan but I am not willing to be subjected to an arrangement of going with a player ranked 300 just because the two other players have decided that. It sets a wrong precedent,” Paes told The Indian Express.

He clarified that he wasn’t as such against partnering a fourth-choice player (Vishnu Vardhan/Yuki Bhambri). However,he said that he would not do so when the second- (Bopanna) and third- (Bhupathi) ranked players too were travelling to London to compete as a pair.

The AITA is now hoping that either Bhupathi or Bopanna will go back on the refusal to play with Paes,and that a solution can be reached by Thursday,which is the last day to send player nominations for the Olympics to the International Tennis Federation.

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