After Mahesh Bhupathi made it known that he was not available for selection for the London Olympics if paired with Leander Paes, his regular partner Rohan Bopanna, this morning communicated to the All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) saying that he too won’t play with Paes.
Bopanna, who broke off a very successful partnership with Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, said he did so so that he and Bhupathi could play play together on the Tour and prepare for the mega-event. On the other hand, the Bangalorean said he’s played alongside Paes only twice during his career, and that as a team they are underprepared for the demands of the Olympics.
Bopanna’s statement to the press is produced below:
Over the weekend, I was approached by the AITA with a request to pair with Leander Paes as the AITA’s ‘second choice’ team to represent India at the Games of the XXX Olympiad. While I was apparently the partner of choice for all other concerned parties, I was told that the AITA’s original decision to exclude me and overlook my pairing with Mahesh Bhupathi was a ‘unanimous’ one, given that the Olympics needed ‘veteran champions’ to compete at that level. The irony of this situation was not lost on me.
With all respect and humility, I have been unable to accept AITA’s offer and have communicated my decision to them in writing this morning. Given the public nature of this personal decision, I felt it was important for me to share my perspective.
I have always dreamt of representing India at the Olympics, and I have worked diligently throughout my career overcoming numerous obstacles. In every athlete’s career, there are a number of junctures where one feels extremely conflicted and unsure whether one is making the right choice. My decision today is not one of them.
In October 2011, I broke up an extremely successful partnership with Aisam Qureshi as I believed that Olympics preparedness required hard work and understanding between partners and the numerous little adjustments that make a team work. This was the toughest professional decision I have taken, as it signified an end to a great partnership and jeopardised a close friendship that was built over many years of struggle and, ultimately, success on the ATP Tour.
Having been ranked No. 8 in the world last year, I could have taken a far easier route to Olympics qualification — if that was my only goal — by continuing my existing partnership and aiming for a personal top-10 ranking. However, I am an athlete who believes that outcomes are a product of process and preparation. I also believe that successful partnerships of every sort require investment of time and emotions through the ups and downs, and that sporting partnerships are no different.
Since the beginning of the year, I have partnered with Mahesh Bhupathi towards playing together as at team at the Olympics. This was communicated to the AITA at every step and we were encouraged to continue to play together. Having played alongside Leander Paes only twice during my career, I recognise that as a team we are underprepared for the demands of the Olympics and, in good faith, I could not accept AITA’s offer that we play together.
I understand that many might find this decision difficult to comprehend. However, my professional integrity will not permit me to make this compromise. I owe this to the partners I have played with in the past, Mahesh Bhupathi who I currently play with and those I will partner in the future. I will still be able to look each of them in the eye.
I believe we are nothing but the product of our choices.