If I decide not play in London Olympics, Bopanna will follow suit: Bhupathi

The high end drama in Indian tennis continues as Mahesh Bhupathi, who had categorically refused to play with ‘backstabber’ Leander Paes, on Saturday said that it was not only him but also Rohan Bopanna who has refused to play with Paes. If he decided not to make the trip to London his partner Rohan Bopanna would follow suit, says a report in The Indian Express.

If both Bhupathi and Bopanna refuse to partner Paes it would affect the All India Tennis Association's back-up plan of fielding the pair of Paes-Bopanna at the London Olympics. “If I refuse to go and say 'no', Rohan will also say 'no', then some plan C of theirs will have to come into force,” Bhupathi told The Sunday Express.

Moreover, Bhupathi said that he was ready to return the entire grant amount of $6,000 per month paid by the sports ministry towards his training requirements if he stuck to his decision to skip the London Games. “If the sports ministry asks for it (the grant amount), I will give it back,” he said.

Meanwhile, Anil Khanna who, during the course of the annual general body meeting, evolved from the secretary's post to being the association's president on Saturday, requested Bhupathi to ‘show more maturity' in dealing with the situation, says a report in The Hindu.

“I said this yesterday and I am repeating it now. It was always about picking the best team for the Olympics. Yes, we could have selected two teams, but if we had opted for Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, can we let our No.1 player Paes partner anyone? Somdev Devvarman is coming back from injury and at best, the second team would have been just a filler. We did not want that, and so we wanted to field Paes with Bhupathi. Considering the nature of the event where top players like Roger Federer will be around, we thought that Paes and Bhupathi had a better chance,” Khanna said.

According to a report in Tribune, the Indian Olympic Association Saturday sought a report from the All India Tennis Association (AITA) regarding the controversy surrounding the selection of the doubles team for the London Olympic Games. (The AITA yesterday selected Mahesh Bhupathi to pair with Leander Paes in the men’s doubles, though the former was keen to pair with his regular doubles partner Rohan Bhoppanna, as they would have gained an automatic entry into the Olympics due to their world ranking of 24, while the No 7 ranked Leander did not have an Indian doubles partner).

While asking for the report, the IOA made it clear that it fully acknowledged the “prerogative” of the National Sports Federations (NSF), including the AITA, to select their teams for the Olympics as they deemed fit. Otherwise, the would have violated its on stated stand of not interfering with the autonomous status of the NSFs, particularly in view of the fact that the IOA has been steadfastly opposing the Sports Ministry’s attempts to rein-in the National Sports Federations, to make them accountable for the grants they receive from the Government.