The Leander Paes-Rohan Bopanna tiff threatens to continue into match-day after the veteran has reportedly refused to stay with his partner at the Olympic village. Additionally, Indian tennis captain Zeeshan Ali admitted, just a day ahead of the event, to not knowing when Paes would land here.
With just a day left for the Olympics, Indian tennis hopes have been left with a big question mark by one of its greatest athletes. Leander Paes had been in the thick of a storm after his tiffs with fellow players in 2012 and 2016. Initially, Rohan Bopanna had preferred Saketh Myneni as his partner ahead of the announcement, but some last-minute maneuvering by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) saw Leander announced as the partner.
But it now appears Paes has not reported to the team with just a day left. Rohan Bopanna has been left to train with Nenad Zimonjic and Max Mirnyi to keep up his pre-match preparations, reported News18.
Bopanna confirmed the reports and said, "I came in yesterday and I had a good hit with Sania (Mirza) and then today Zimonic also... Since I was here early I decided to practice with him and get a few sessions in there."
Expressing his ignorance of Paes' whereabouts and time of arrival Bopanna, when asked if he is arriving soon, said, "That’s what I’ve heard."
It is learnt that Paes has also refused to share accommodation with his doubles partner. Indian team captain Zeeshan Ali told News18, "I feel a little sad for Rohan. You know from obviously playing. This is one of the toughest tournaments in the world and we are having to find people, he’s having to go around asking people to practice with."
He, as well, expressed that he was unaware of Paes' travel plans and said,"Unfortunately he hasn’t showed up as of yet. I’m pretty much in the dark as to where he is and when he is coming."
Paes and Bopanna were reportedly asked to reach Rio by August 1 so that they could catch up on some much-needed practice together ahead of the event. It is to be noted that the two have not played with each other in years.
Former tennis player Enrico Piperno told News18, “I mentioned that I was pretty puzzled with the fact that Bopana and Paes hadn’t even played a single tournament leading up to the Olympics. They knew in June that they were going to play together.”
“To add to that Leander is a no-show and Bopanna has to practice without a player is incredibly crazy and bizarre and he should have been the first guy there,” he added.
However, Leander's father Vece Paes, an Olympian himself with the Indian hockey team, said, “Leander has already left for Brazil and he will be reaching Rio on August 4 evening. Regarding the accommodation I’m not in the space to comment about it. However, I can tell you that he will be reaching in the evening," Firstpost reported. The veteran also said that Paes was late, but only by half a day over what he had agreed to with the authorities.