Mahesh Bhupathi, Leander Paes may be paired separately for Olympics

Updated: 14 June 2012 14:51 IST

It's the same old controversy, involving the same two people - Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi - that is all set to volley into the face of Indian tennis once again as the All India Tennis Association selection committee sits down to pick the Indian tennis squad for the London Games in Bangalore tomorrow.

Mahesh Bhupathi, Leander Paes may be paired separately for Olympics
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Mumbai:

It's the same old controversy, involving the same two people - Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi - that is all set to volley into the face of Indian tennis once again as the All India Tennis Association selection committee sits down to pick the Indian tennis squad for the London Games in Bangalore tomorrow.

Topping the agenda for selection committee members Jaidip Mukherjea, SP Misra, Rohit Rajpal, Zeeshan Ali and Sai Jayalakshmi, will be picking India's best doubles combination for the Games.

While traditionalists would believe multiple Grand Slam champions Paes and Bhupathi should come together for one last waltz, the inside story is that the duo have categorically told AITA that they do not wish to partner each other.

Obviously, if the authorities feel otherwise, they will have to play together, but the inevitable question here is whether having two bickering men on the same side of the net will ever result in a medal for the country. It didn't at the 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games.

According to sources, given the fact that Paes has retained his seventh spot in the charts, and so is the only Indian to directly qualify for the doubles at the Olympics, things could swing his way.

Paes and Bopanna

"Paes is India's best player at the moment and if the selectors go by rankings, which at the end of the day is unquestionable, it could well be Paes and Rohan Bopanna for London considering Bopanna (12) is the next best ranked Indian player while Bhupathi is No 14," said a former India Davis Cupper, who did not wish to be named.

Then, there's the mixed doubles dilemma to be solved. Now, Sania Mirza (who is yet to get a wildcard for the Games) has already announced that she would like to pair up with her French Open title-winning partner Bhupathi in London.

However, at the Olympics, only a player, who is part of the doubles brigade, can be part of a mixed doubles team. So, if Paes and Bopanna are teamed up, obviously Mahesh is ruled out for mixed too.

However, the selectors could play the balancing act here, it is learnt. Since, India is eligible to field two teams at the Games, Bhupathi could be teamed up with Somdev Devvarman.

This makes Bhupathi eligible to partner Sania in the mixed.

"We have taken both, Leander and Mahesh's suggestions into consideration, but the ultimate decision will lie with the committee. And in the interest of the country, this committee is ready to take some strong decisions," a member of AITA selection committee told MiD DAY yesterday. Another selector added: "Since we are eligible to field two teams at the Games, we might consider it. At the end of the day, it would be nice to have a youngster to experience the Games."

Topics : Leander Paes Tennis Olympics 2012
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