The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has deferred till tomorrow the decision on the doubles entries for the London Olympics. Tomorrow, incidentally, is also the last day for submission of entries for the mega-event.
In a letter sent by Leander Paes to the AITA earlier today, the Atlanta Olympics singles bronze medallist threatened to pull out of the Olympics if his demand of pairing up with either Rohan Bopanna or Mahesh Bhupathi is not met. Paes, for whom London might be his last Olympics, isn’t keen on teaming up with a junior player. Paes said he would withdraw for the sake of Indian tennis.
However, in the letter Paes also says he’s ready to play with the next best player that the Federation chooses in case both Bhupathi and Bopanna refuse to play with him.
Paes also brought up the issue of mixed doubles in the letter, saying he “deserves to partner Sania.”
The AITA feels that Paes being the only Indian to directly qualify for the Olympics (thanks to his top-10 world ranking) should be allowed the partner of his choice. The Federation therefore tried to convince both Bhupathi and Bopanna yesterday to team up with Paes but the duo refused to budge.
The deadlock, however, will be broken tomorrow when the AITA holds the press conference at 2 pm.
Earlier today, there were reports that the AITA is considering softening its stance and may finally send two teams to London.
Sources told CNN-IBN that the Federation is open to sending two teams — with Leander Paes probably partnering Vishnu Vardhan as one team and Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna forming the other.
With the entry deadline fast approaching, the AITA is making a desperate bid to resolve the differences between the involved parties — Paes, Bhupathi and Bopanna.
The extent to which the tennis crisis has snowballed can be gauged from the fact that even External Affairs Minister SM Krishna decided to step in to resolve the situation.
Krishna has asked AITA president Anil Khanna to meet all the players personally and resolve the issue. He has also requested the three tennis players to forget their personal differences and play for the country.