Bhupathi may get raw deal from AITA
Paes' No 7 ranking may see AITA give him choice of partner at Olympics, dealing Bhupathi a cruel blow today
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) looks set to land a cruel blow to doubles tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi as they sit down to pick the Indian tennis squad for the London Games in Bangalore today.
Considering five-time Olympian Leander Paes has retained his World No 7 spot in the charts, making him the only Indian to directly qualify for the doubles at the upcoming London Olympics, it seems, Paes could have his choice of partner in the doubles as well as the mixed.
Another point going against Bhupathi (ranked No 14), are his email exchanges with AITA chief Anil Khanna wherein he has categorically stated that he and Rohan Bopanna (No 12) are only available for selection as a team. This move of depriving the country’s highest ranked player of a partner of his choice is being viewed as an act to hamper India’s medal quest, and this is something the AITA cannot afford to permit.
Twist to the tale
Adding a twist to the tale is the mixed doubles team selection. Here too, Sania Mirza has stated her choice of partner as Bhupathi, along with whom she recently won her second Grand Slam title, the French Open.
AITA has apparently taken strong view of this too and are unhappy that a player (Sania) who has not been able to qualify for the Games on her own and is instead relying on AITA for a wildcard, is dictating terms here. Paes may thus be teamed with his Doha Asian Games gold medal-winning partner Sania once again, thereby putting Bhupathi completely out of the Olympic equation.
In an ideal world, AITA should think of allowing Bhupathi and Bopanna continue a partnership they forged at the start of the year with a view to playing together at the Olympics. Paes could be teamed up with Somdev Devvarman, a player he has always touted to be the flagbearer of Indian tennis in future, and Sania in the mixed doubles.
In this way, Bhupathi and Bopanna’s familiarity along with Paes-Sania’s solid partnership could bolster India’s medal prospects in London. But the current tug-of-war in Indian tennis is far from ideal anyway.
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