E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Mahesh Bhupathi has openly refused to play ball with Leander Paes in the forthcoming Olympics. Mahesh and his chosen partner Rohan Bopanna have written to all India tennis association (AITA) that they would like to be paired together for the event.
Anil Khanna, AITA general secretary, has not taken kindly to this salvo, and has asked Bhupathi to play doubles with Leander Paes, or else he will be sacked.
The Paes-Bhupathi duo, once famous as ‘Indian Express’ has been reduced to a ‘C’ grade Bollywood movie with vendetta written all over. The seemingly ‘he loves me he loves me-not’ syndrome between them has all but driven the charm out of the famous doubles combination of the game.
It’s surprising they reunited thrice, each time having quarreled for reasons not spelt out.
AITA has not been able to broker a lasting peace between the two nor the past greats like Ramesh Krishnan or Vijay Amrithraj. Their love-hate circus, which they practice amidst,’ love all’ when they start a match is at once amusing, baffling and a trifle sad.
To be sure, most top tennis players concentrate only on singles, except for a rare John McEnroe, and doubles is generally left for lesser-known players. None of the Indian players have been able to break into the top 100 ranking except for a brief while by Somdev. It is in doubles and mixed doubles India has been able to make a mark.
This vendetta will be played again when selectors sit down to select India’s mixed doubles combination. Mahesh and Sania Mirza Malik having just won French Open would obviously like to play but whether AITA will allow this remains to be seen.
Isn’t it better AITA send a young combination of Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri (in place of injured Somdev) to represent India instead of the warring, sparring veterans and send out a lesson too?
Medals are important but not when the players display immense hatred in public. What good will it serve future of Tennis in India and what lesson it will have on budding youngsters even if they win a medal?
Also read: Revealed: How the Paes-Bhupathi split began
Every one seems to be missing the real culprit and making Rohan.B and Mahesh.B as villains!
For the sake of playing in Olympics, both Leander P and Mahesh.B came together after along hiatus. But soon Leander P found Mahesh.B not up to his standard( May be MaheshB scoring over him by marrying a Miss Universe rattled his ego). But his comments were quite rude and quite unnecessary. He could have quietly gone back to AITA and informed them about his preference.
Naturally a hurt Mahesh.B quietly chose Rohan.B as his partner. But the sacrifice which Rohan.B made was more laudable. His doubles performance with Pakistani Qureshi was making headlines and going great guns.
But in all this fracas AITA kept quiet. If there intention was to make Leander.P and Mahesh.B play the doubles then they ought to have made their choice much earlier when they broke off. Having financed Mahesh.B and Rohan.B so far they tacitly gave their consent all along. At the same time in the intervening period Leander.P did not try and play with any other Indian young legs to see if they can succeed. He went around playing ATP with his foreign partners. This is also reflected in the reduced amount drawn by him from AITA.
In such a scenario AITA is the real villain. In addition we also have the prospect of Sania Mirza getting a wild card. If it happens whom will the AITA want her to partner ? Leander.P ? That would be quite a humiliating insult to Mahesh.B.
Any self respecting person would do the same which Mahesh.B did . All this blah blah about playing for the Nation etc etc is uncalled. when you rob the man of his honor and pride, the result will be a disaster. In the end it will only give Leander.P a handle to say :I told you so ! I would have won if my request to partner Rohan.B was granted !
Only Paes has qualified. So who ever partners him get through.Sack Bhupati and Bopanna from all forms of Tennis in India as they do not want to play for the Nation. No more requests please.
In the recent Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan, AITA and Capt. Paes dropped Mahesh from the team to enable Paes to partner Rohan in doubles. The Result was disastrous.
Paes and Rohan lost to Denis Istomin and Farrukh Dustov in a must-win encounter in four sets : (4) 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6. India lost the tie 3-2. only Rohan and Bhmabri managed to salvage some pride by winning the reverse single matches.
So much for Paes shenanigans !
How can they send Yuki and Rohan when they are not qualified? Paes has qualified as his double ranking is less than 10 and Paes/Rohan with their combined double ranking.
My friend told me its resolved now – Leander plays with Bopanna. Bopanna plays with Mahesh, Mahesh plays with Sania. And Shoaib Malik? He plays with himself.
I find this idiotic. The best players should be sent together to play. We cannot have a top seed sit out just because he doesn’t want to play with someone else. Having the top players play together provides the best chance to win a medal for the country.
If they aren’t interested in playing for the country then they shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the Olympics. Also they should not be allowed to represent India for a period of time the AITA think is right.
The writer should first know the actualities of the tennis row. We can’t send yuki and bopanna. it’s against the selection criterion.