Paes threatens to withdraw from Olympics

June 20th, 2012 - 8:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Rohan Bopanna New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) India’s tennis ace Leander Paes Wednesday served notice to the All India Tennis Association (AITA) saying he would pull out of the London Olympics if he was asked to pair up with a player ranked 207/306 in the world.

Paes, in his letter to AITA secretary general Bharat Oza, reiterated that he was ready to pair with either Mahesh Bhupathi or Rohan Bopanna.

“I am comfortable to partner Mahesh or Rohan for the forthcoming Olympics. If Mahesh or Rohan refuse to play with me for our country, then I am happy to play with the next best player that the AITA decides on.

“However, it would not be acceptable, if with my ranking as the best Indian tennis player, I give up the best option of partner for winning a medal for my country and am made to play the Olympics with a player ranked 207/306 in the world while the No.13 and No.15 ranked players form another team together based on their refusal to play with me,” Paes said in the letter.

Last week, the AITA announced that Bhupathi would partner Paes at the London Games. But both Bhupathi and Bopanna, who qualify for the Olympics as a team, have refused to pair with Paes.

Paes, who has earned direct qualification, being World No.7, has the right to choose his partner while Bhupathi and Bopanna can only play as a team at the Olympics.

Bhupathi also wants to pair with Sania Mirza for the mixed doubles event at the Games but that can happen only if Mirza gets a wildcard entry. They recently won the French Open mixed doubles title.

Paes, however, said that he and Mirza have gained a direct entry into the mixed doubles event.

“I have been ATP ranked at No.1 in the world as a team and No.7 in the world individually, for the first six months of 2012. By virtue of this, I have got a direct entry into the men’s doubles at the Olympics with the right to choose my partner. I would also bring to your notice that Sania and I, by virtue of our combined ranking of No.19 on the ATP Tour have got a direct entry in the mixed doubles at the Olympics,” said Paes.

Paes also said that allowing Bhupathi and Bopanna to call the shots and defy the decision of the selection committee would set a bad example.

“If this is the case, then for the sake of Indian Tennis and to relieve the AITA in regards to the selection of the team, I have no other option but to withdraw from the Olympics,” Paes said adding that “this decision is not taken lightly and with any rancour”.

“We cannot be condoning or rewarding the drama enacted by Mahesh and Rohan. This would be a bad precedent for current and future sports persons (particularly tennis players) in our country,” said Paes.

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