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Blow to Bhupathi-Bopanna pair,India may send lone team

It leaves one top doubles player — Rohan Bopanna or Mahesh Bhupathi — facing the axe.

Written by Smriti Sinha | New Delhi | Published: June 14, 2012 2:16:53 am

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has hinted at sending only one men’s doubles team to the London Olympics. It leaves one top doubles player — Rohan Bopanna or Mahesh Bhupathi — facing the axe when the selection committee meets in Bangalore on Friday to pick the combination.

As things stand,Leander Paes,by virtue of being ranked among top-10 in the world,has earned a direct entry. But while he has insisted on playing with Bopanna,citing the need for “fresh legs”,the latter has shown an inclination towards partnering Bhupathi.

Amid this confusion,AITA has decided to play hardball,saying that it won’t give in to the whims and fancies of players. “Someone is going to get hurt,we’ll find out who. It’s unfortunate that we have three great doubles players but one of them will miss out on the Olympics,” a member of the selection committee told The Indian Express.

“Only if you play Rohan and Mahesh together can you send two teams,but that would mean leaving Leander,who has earned the right to play,in the lurch,without a good partner” he said.

Earlier,Somdev Devvarman’s name was floated as one of the partners for Paes so that India could send two teams. But the 27-year-old Devvarman hasn’t played for the last eight months owing to a shoulder injury,and AITA is reluctant to consider any other name. “Now our idea is to decide on one good team,without thinking how we can send everybody,” the selector said.

However,Paes is not going to have a final say in the matter either. He may have given enough indications of not being satisfied with Bhupathi’s fitness,but his arguments seem to have cut no ice with the federation. “Whims and fancies of a player can only be considered to a certain extent. On paper,yes,Rohan and Leander have as good potential as any other team but they did not show good communication between each other during the Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan so that also has to be considered,” the source said.

In mixed doubles as well,the odds are that Leander Paes will partner Sania Mirza in London,even though she recently won the French Open title with Bhupathi. The federation,however,says that this is a bridge that they will cross when they come to it. The team for the mixed doubles is a ‘subsequent decision’ subject to ITF’s call on a wild card for Mirza which will be made later this month.

Crucial decider

* In doubles rankings,only Paes (with his top-10 ranking) can choose a partner (rank notwithstanding) for direct entry.

* If Bopanna is paired with Paes,that will mean that India cannot send two teams as then Bhupathi (with rank 14) cannot combine with any other player to make the 24 direct entries based on combined ranking.

* If Paes partners Somdev,Bopanna (rank 12) and Bhupathi with a combined ranking of 26 can hope to make the cut.

* Ranked 12,Sania Mirza has to rely on an ITF wild card to make the doubles draw. Only players who are playing the singles/ doubles draw can team up for the mixed.

* In case Mirza-Bhupathi both fail to qualify directly,the ITF may consider them for a wild card in the mixed category.

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