London Olympics: Leander may partner Vishnu Vardhan incase Bhupathi & Bopanna stick to their stand

Mulling over the possible options to partner Leander Paes in case Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna stick to their stand of not playing with him, the tennis federation is close to zeroing in on the name of Vishnu Vardhan, says a report in Hindustan Times.

“The 328-ranked Vardhan has won two Futures tournaments on the trot, but more importantly he has the big serve that makes Bopanna so attractive for Paes to partner on grass. He is ranked 207 in doubles, seventh among the Indian doubles players. Of course, this is an option that will only be considered if the federation looks to either drop the Bhupathi-Bopanna combo totally or examines the possibility of two entries to the Olympics,” adds HT.

Meanwhile, The Times Of India writes that the All India Tennis Association (AITA) will now have the final say over the selection of the men’s doubles team to picked to represent the country at the 2012 London Olympics later this year. The sports ministry has decided not to involve itself in the selection of the team and has directed the AITA to exercise its available options "in the best of national interests".

“After receiving a request by Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna that the duo be sent to London for the men's doubles, the ministry decided against interfering in AITA's selection process and asked the association to take the final call. The decision came after AITA dashed off a letter to the ministry outlining the logic behind selecting the feuding Leander Paes and Bhupathi to play as a team.  Bhupathi and Bopanna wanted to play as a pair and asked the AITA to choose another partner for Paes, who has gained direct individual entry to the London draw based on the basis of his top-10 ranking. The AITA in its letter has said, “it should be understood that two players cannot make a pact with each other to keep the number one player out and publicly suggest in media that No.1 player should go to Olympics with No. 5."

According to a report in The DNA, the AITA selection committee will meet again on Wednesday. The federation has been advised by the sports ministry as well as Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to review their decision and come up with the “best possible solution”.

Whether the AITA will change its stand and send two teams instead of one is a million dollar question. “With only one day remaining before the International Tennis Federation deadline to nominate the team ends, the AITA doesn’t have much time. Since the players will be going under the banner of the IOA, it’s also our responsibility to ensure the best team goes,” an IOA official told DNA.