Leander Paes unreactive to Bhupathi’s comments, says he’ll abide by AITA’s decision

Though Mahesh Bhupathi has gone vocal against AIAT's decision to pair him with Leander paes in the London Olympics, , the tennis fraternity has been waiting to hear Paes' side of the story. But there was no hard-hitting retort forthcoming, reads a report in The Times Of India.

India's top doubles player did, however, clarify on Saturday that he had intimated to the AITA that Rohan Bopanna is his preferred partner for the Olympics, "based on his physical fitness and big serves", says the report. And that he would play with whoever the selectors choose. "I will, as I always have in the past, put my best foot forward," Paes stated and added, "To represent India for the sixth time at the Olympics is my greatest honour".

By going on record about his wish to pair with Bopanna in London, Paes has exposed the fact that both senior pros - one 39 and the other 38 - wanted to go to London with their younger countryman. In other words, the AITA didn't grant the wish of either Paes or Bhupathi. The 'fight' over Bopanna actually surfaced once Paes decided not to renew his one-year-old partnership with Bhupathi last November.

“We never expected this sort of reaction. Honestly, we never even thought things would be so bad,” said SP Misra, India tennis squad non-playing captain and member of the All India Tennis Association selection panel member.  Misra was reacting in an exclusive chat with The Hindu on Saturday to the reports about Davis Cupper Mahesh Bhupathi refusing to partner Leander Paes in the 2012 London Olympics.

“The decision to field Leander and Mahesh was taken after a teleconference involving both of them before the final choice was made. But, we were definitely surprised at the post-selection developments. I still believe that Mahesh and Leander are the best bet from India to win a medal given their amazing track record at the highest level,” he added.

“I am still optimistic of these issues being sorted out by Monday. And, if Mahesh insists on not partnering Leander, then Rohan Bopanna would be the next choice. If he also refuses to play with Leander, then the next best ranked players from India will be in the reckoning automatically,” said Misra. “Fortunately, there is time till June 21 to decide on this big issue,” he added.