London: Indian tennis player Rohan Bopanna says it was his doubles partnership with Pakistan's Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi on the international circuit that shattered many myths.
"Most of the people, especially those who have knowledge of India-Pakistan history, were surprised to see both of us playing together. Some thought it is a sort of publicity-seeking move and others predicted that the partnership will not last long or will end in acrimony. All the naysayers were proved wrong," Bopanna said during an interaction in the Games Village.
"We definitely had no agenda nor did we start as peace messengers. We met on the tour and started playing and became good friends," he said.
Recalling his first meeting with Aisam, Bopanna said he met the Pakistani 15 years ago in Delhi but at that time he never thought of partnering him.
"I never thought that I will partner him in near future. But let me tell you, tennis is a very lonely tour. On the tour, Americans, Chinese and the French usually move together. Both of us were lonely. We started talking on the tour and the common language helped us," he said.
They decided to pair up in 2007. Three years later, they were appointed as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) goodwill ambassadors.
"In 2007 in England, I did not have the doubles partner so we decided to play together and in the third tournament we won the title and as they say rest is history," said Bopanna.
About his friendship with Aisam, Bopanna said: "Never once we discussed about our countries or politics because we knew that those things are not in our control. But given the history of the two countries relationship, most of the people were really surprised to see us playing together and that with good degree of success."
Bopanna described Aisam as one of the finest human being.
"Well, all I can say playing with him is a great pleasure. Sports blurs boundaries, nationalities and religion," he said.
Asked about his medal chances in the Games, Bopanna said: "Well, I can only consider myself extremely lucky. Just think how many players from all over the World have got the chance to figure in this mega event. I could not have asked for more.
"I just cannot explain my emotions or feelings about playing in the Olympics. It is great to be here. To see best of the sportspersons under one roof. It is just an awesome sight to see hundreds of sportspersons from all over the globe sitting under one roof having their breakfast, lunch and dinner."
Bopanna, who will be pairing Mahesh Bhupathi, said their chances of a medal in the men's doubles is as good as any team.
"We have chances as good as others. It depends on our form on that day. We have prepared well for this event for the last six months. We will go all out and give our best, let us see what happens. Winning and losing is part of the Game. The important issue is how we will perform," he said.