Rio 2016: No tennis wildcards for Olympics puts Indian participation in jeopardy
New Delhi: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will not offer any wildcards for the tennis events at this year's Rio Olympics which means Indian players will have to qualify for main draws solely on the basis of their rankings.
ITF Secretary General Juan Margets has clarified that no National Association can apply for wild cards.
It means that All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) President Anil Khanna, who is also the ITF Vice President, will not be able to help the Indian players, particularly Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi.
Paes is still close to top-50 but Bhupathi is languishing below 200.
"We have received several enquiries regarding applications for 'wildcards' for the Olympic Tennis Event and I wanted to take this opportunity to once more clarify that 'wildcards' do not exist in the Olympic Tennis Event," Margets said in a statement.
"In previous Olympic Games the ITF had a degree of discretionary oversight on the allocation of Final
Qualification Places (ITF Places), which might have been considered similar to the concept of wildcards in other events.
"Now, in line with International Olympic Committee requirements, this has changed for Rio 2016. While Final Qualification Places remain, they are now allocated strictly according to the criteria outlined in the Qualification System," he added.
"The ITF has no discretionary power to allocate Final Qualification Places and consequently National Associations cannot apply for Final Qualification Places (or wildcards)," Margets clarified.
Rohan Bopanna, at present, is India's top-ranked doubles player at number 11 followed by Leander Paes (52), who is eyeing a record seventh Olympics appearance but has been struggling for form.
Saketh Myneni (113), Purav Raja (115) and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (140) form the top-five.
Stalwart Mahesh Bhupathi, who is world No.214 right now, has time till June 6 to improve his ranking since world standings on that day will be considered for entry into the Rio Games.
In a draw of 64 in the men's and women's singles competition, 56 are direct entries, six are final
qualification places (ITF) and two are tripartite commission invitation places.
In doubles, 24 teams have direct entry and eight are final qualification places (ITF). Any doubles player ranked 10th or better will gain direct entry and have a choice of partner.
After being forced to shut out fans last year due to Covid-19, the tournament will begin selling tickets for the 30 August - 12 September showdown at Flushing Meadows to the public on 15 July.
The 23-year-old four-time Grand Slam winner said following her withdrawal from the French Open that she was taking some time out of the game as she battles depression and anxiety.
Cornet, currently 63rd in the world, dug deep to seal a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Spain's two-time Grand Slam winner Muguruza, now ranked 13th, after almost three hours on court.