Next year will be my last on Tour: Bhupathi

September 18th, 2012 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Sep 18 (IANS) Tennis veteran Mahesh Bhupathi Tuesday made the All India Tennis Association (AITA) decision to ban him for two years look silly by announcing that next year would be his last on the Tour.

Lashing out at AITA for banning Rohan Bopanna and him, Bhupathi said the apex tennis body in the country had always been “dictatorial” and somebody should step in to end the “disaster that the Indian tennis administration is”.

“I played my last match for India in the present circumstances (London Olympic Games) and next year will be my last on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour definitely. A lot of people celebrated on the day we lost at the Olympics,” he said.

Asked why he chose to break with Bopanna, Bhupathi said since next year would be his last, Bopanna would get enough time to find a younger partner.

“Rohan still has a good 8-10 years to play,” he said.

Bhupathi wants either the Sports Ministry or the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to intervene.

“There are powers like the IOA or Sports Ministry who can take action. I don’t know who to complain to. If it is the Sports Ministry or IOA or somebody, it needs to step in for the sake of Indian tennis,” he said.

Launching a scathing attack on AITA, Bhupathi said it was detrimental to the growth of tennis in the country and he has no choice but to accept the two-year ban slapped on him by the “dictatorial” association.

However, he also said he was exploring legal options to challenge the ban.

“We will definitely pursue the legal route. (My) lawyers are deciding the course of action, though I can’t say much right now,” he said.

Bhupathi, at the fag-end of his career at age 38, said after much thought he had decided to take on the AITA.

“At every step of the way the establishment has put a spoke in the wheel. So much so it changed the constitution to make sure we are not able to run any event in India without it being part of it,” he said.

He and Rohan Bopanna were banned by the association till June 2014 for refusing to play with Leander Paes at the London Olympics 2012.

Taking a dig at AITA president Anil Khanna, Bhupathi said Khanna enjoyed the public spat between him and Paes.

Asked if it was right to have ego issues between two players of the same country, Bhupathi said he had proved he didn’t have ego hassles for over a decade, referring to his pairing with Leander Paes. However, he blamed Khanna for widening the rift.

“He (Khanna) has redefined the term divide and rule, and at this year’s Olympics he used Leander’s shoulder to fire at me. Unfortunately, the media terms this a Bhupathi-Paes rift and the true underbelly is left unquestioned,” he said.

Bhupathi, however, refrained from saying anything against Paes.

“Leander is not to be blamed for this. He is playing the part of a professional tennis player and he wants to do what is best for him,” Bhupathi said.

Taking potshots at Khanna, Bhupathi said the tennis chief did not like the fact that he had “access through different avenues.”

“Anil has a problem with me, that I have access through different avenues through which I can do what I want for the sport. I am quasi doing what he should be doing,” he said.

Bhupathi insisted he has no personal issues with Khanna and that he is a nice man. But he also believes in having total control.

“Many times in my career I had gone to Khannna and extended a hand and said let’s do things together. He always wanted control and never wanted to show he was joining hands with players, so it never worked out,” Bhupathi said.

Bhupathi also said he felt for his partner (Bopanna) and regretted for not playing his farewell match for India.

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