Mumbai/New Delhi:The All India Tennis Association has finally forwarded tennis champion Mahesh Bhupathi's name for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.
Bhupathi was perhaps the most controversial omission from the final list of nominees for last year's Khel Ratna award.
A 10-time Grand Slam champion who also has Asiad golds to his name, Bhupathi's niggling spats with the AITA have denied him the country's highest sporting honour. But that looks set to change this year.
The AITA has confirmed to NDTV that it has finally forwarded his name to the award committee. Last year, Indian Tennis' governing body had not thought it necessary.
Bhupathi, however, says he isn't really thinking about it at the moment.
"I'm just doing my job on a daily basis. And it's up to them when they recommend it. If they do it, good, if they don't, too bad," he said.
Another big name in the fray is that of Indian Cricket captain Rahul Dravid. He was nominated last year as well, but missed out, like Bhupathi, to fellow Bangalorean Pankaj Advani.
"Last time we had heard that there was some allergy for cricket, but we are hopeful that this year we wil get it," said Professor Ratnakar Shetty, Chief Administrative Officer, BCCI.
A look at some of the select Khel Ratna nominees this year suggests that Bhupathi and Dravid will once again be the frontrunners for this award.
Besides them, three-time world women's boxing champion M C Marykom and Asian Games double gold-medallist Koneru Humpy are also in the running.
There are also three names from shooting - former Trap World number one Manavjit Singh, pistol shooter Samresh Jung, who won five golds at the last Commonwealth Games, and former 10m Air Rifle world number one Gagan Narang. Jaspal Rana, though, was unfortunate to miss out again.
Pankaj Advani surprised most people last year, by winning the coveted prize ahead of Dravid and Bhupathi.
The World Billiards title in 2005 and the unique distinction of having won both the World Snooker and Billiards titles, had swung it in his favour.
So, will 10 grand slam titles do the same for Mahesh Bhupathi? Watch this space till August.