Rohan Bopanna Explains Why he Didn't Want Leander Paes as Partner in Rio
Rohan Bopanna said he respected AITA's decision to team him up with Leander Paes for 2016 Rio Olympics. He, in an earlier statement, had stated that their style of play was 'not compatible'
- Bopanna has been teamed up with Paes for men's doubles in Rio by AITA
- Bopanna had named Myneni as his preferred choice earlier
- Bopanna earlier said his and Paes' style of play was 'not compatible'
Indian tennis, in recent years, has been witness to players being reluctant to partner some of their compatriots when it comes to Olympics. Ahead of the 2016 Rio edition, India's top-10 ranked Rohan Bopanna made a similar appeal to the All India Tennis Association (AITA).
Bopanna, who had the freedom to choose his doubles partner owing to his top-10 ranking, opted for the 125th ranked Saketh Myneni over the 46th ranked and veteran of many big battles Leander Paes.
But AITA did not listen to his request as it felt that the combination of Bopanna and Paes were the 'best bets' for India to win a medal in tennis at the Olympics.
Bopanna, in his letter to AITA on Friday, cited his style of play was 'not compatible or complementary' with that of Paes.
"I have much admiration for Leander Paes and his many achievements, but unfortunately we have not been able to put together a good combination despite our best efforts and I do not believe our styles of play are either compatible or complementary," he said.
"Considering that this is a team event where two individuals need to gel together to do well, regardless of individual achievements, it is the team and the combination that matters."
Bopanna gave his reasons for Myneni being his preferred choice. "I have chosen Saketh based on a careful weighing of whose game will complement mine at Rio, given my own skills, strengths and weaknesses. As you will see from my track record, I have consistently had success with partners who have big weapons, a serve, a forehand.
"In that sense, the ranking of the player in doubles is far less important than what he brings to the partnership. I have played with over 70 partners in my career and that has given me the ability to gauge what type of player works well with me and what doesn't."
'Respect AITA's decision'
However, after the AITA announced on Sunday that Paes and Bopanna would be teamed together for the men's doubles event, Bopanna said he respected the decision.
"Based on my ranking, I had earned the privilege offered to the top 10 players in the world, to make a preferred nomination of doubles partner for the Men's Doubles which I could forward to AITA for their endorsement. Following due process, I sent my nomination to AITA with an explanation of my reasoning," he said.
"The AITA Selection Committee has now made its decision after due consideration of my representation and has selected the team for the Olympics. I respect this decision and look forward to participating in Rio."
'Dream come true'
Paes, who will be playing his seventh Olympics, was elated after he was picked for the Rio Games.
"To play for the (Indian) flag has always been the greatest inspiration for me. I am humbled by the love showered upon me by the people. Their overwhelming and unconditional support has been my pillar of strength and motivation throughout my career," he said.
"The honour to represent India at Rio Olympics 2016 is a dream come true. I am thankful to the All India Tennis Association for bestowing me this opportunity to wear the Tri-colours on my heart once again."