Hesh-Bops emerge victorious in the blackmail drama; AITA pacifies Paes with mixed doubles pairing with Sania

Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna pressure tactics did them in as AITA succumbed to the pressure and the tennis body which had originally announced the team of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi for London Olympics, on Wednesday announced that Bhupathi will pair with Bopanna while Leander will play with Vishnu Vardhan, says a report in The Times Of India.

“The decision might not be fair, but is in the best interest of the country. We’ll do our best to plead with Leander to accept it. It is definitely a calculated risk that we have taken,” AITA president Anil Khanna said.

Bhupathi and Bopanna were elated with the AITA’s decision. Bhupathi, however, is unhappy that his successful pairing with Sania has been broken by the AITA. Khanna insisted that the decision on India’s mixed doubles team is “iron-clad”. “The entries have already been sent to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). There won’t be any change in this line-up,” Khanna said later in the day.

Meanwhile, after days of indecision and rancour, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) on Thursday put an end to speculation and worked out a compromise formula, agreeing to pair Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna for the Olympics and teaming Leander Paes with Sania Mirza for the mixed doubles, says a report in The Indian Express.

The pairing with Sania appears to be an attempt to pacify Paes, who had threatened to pull out if Bopanna-Bhupathi were sent as a pair. However, that still remains unsure, pending a wildcard for Sania which will be announced only on June 28.

AITA president Anil Khanna admitted that the announcement on Wednesday to send only one men’s doubles team, including Paes, was a desperate measure to make either Bhupathi or Bopanna give in. But with the duo sticking to their stand of playing together till Thursday morning, the federation had no choice but to pair Paes with Vishnu Vardhan. The AITA, however, decided against punishing Bopanna-Bhupathi despite their ‘non-cooperation.’

He also refuted speculation that Sania, having voiced her preference for Bhupathi, may oppose this decision. “Sania is in no position to deny our decision. She will be happy if she gets a wildcard and she has to go by our choice,” he added.