Leander Paes’ hopes of representing India in his seventh-consecutive Olympics could be over after reports emerged about Rohan Bopanna picking Saketh Myneni as his doubles partner. The final decision on the matter will be taken by the All India Tennis Association on Saturday.
Rohan Bopanna, who secured a direct entry to the men’s doubles event at the Olympics by vof his top-10 ranking, has reportedlirtue y told the All India Tennis Association (AITA) that he would prefer Saketh Myneni as his partner. However, Bopanna has not mentioned his preferred partner for the quadrennial event in a statement on his website.
“I am delighted and proud to have earned a Direct Acceptance to the Men's Doubles event at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad - Rio 2016 by virtue of my top-10 ATP ranking on 6 June 2016. I look forward to representing India at my second Olympics and consider it a privilege, responsibility and honour.
“A Direct Acceptance provides me the right to nominate my Men's Doubles partner, an opportunity for me to exercise my judgment as to the best possible partner for me. I have, earlier today, communicated my decision to the AITA. I am looking forward to the support and good wishes of all concerned in the lead up to the Olympics,” Bopanna said in the statement. Bopanna’s choice is not entirely shocking with both the players sharing a not-so-cordial relation, stemming from the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics.(Also read - Leander Paes' Olympic hopes in Bopanna's hands)
“It's not a wise move. People are not going to forget if Paes happens to miss this Olympics because of Rohan... he will face lots of criticism." An unnamed AITA official told the PTI.
It is up to the AITA to nominate the final team according to ITF rules. Thus, the national association has the power to reject the Bangalorean’s choice and send a Bopanna-Paes team. Sania Mirza had already communicated to the AITA about her preference as partner though she refused to make it public. In all likelihood she is set to partner Bopanna as they share a better relation amongst all combinations. Saina will play the women’s doubles with Prarthana Thombare, ranked 209. She has been a trainee at the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy. The AITA selection committee will decide the Olympic team on Saturday.
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