Bangalore: Asserting that the country supersedes all other considerations, All India Tennis Association president Anil Khanna hoped that “good sense prevails” and that Mahesh Bhupathi would agree to partner Leander Paes as decided in the men’s doubles competition of the London Olympics Games.
The AITA selection committee’s decision at its meeting here Friday to pair Paes and Bhupathi brought into open once again the differences between the two top notch doubles players and letting of much bad blood in the media.
Reacting to Bhupathi’s reported comments that he would make every effort so that he plays alongside his preferred and current partner Rohan Bopanna, the AITA chief, speaking to the media persons after the AITA elections here Saturday, said the decision would stand and that the federation will not “buckle under” pressure.
“All this talk about groupism and preferences is a concoction by the media and perhaps the players too. To repeat what I said Friday, the selectors went by merit. The AITA will not buckle under pressure,” he said.
“He (Bhupathi) should be a bit more mature and take the decision in right spirit. Maybe he had committed to Bopanna, but the nation comes before all commitments. I am sure good sense will prevail,” said Khanna.
He declined to comment on possible course of action should both Bhupathi and Bopanna decide not to partner Paes at the Olympics. “Only time will tell,” said Khanna.
The AITA president also rejected the theory that India could have fielded two doubles teams as suggested by Bhupathi and said such a move would have amounted to fielding a “filler” combination.
“A second team would have been a filler and Paes being the highest ranked player among the three, it would have been pointless to have him partner a fourth or fifth or sixth ranked Indian player.”
“Our selectors considered all these matters and felt that Paes and Bhupathi were the best possible combination that can win a medal for us. I feel sorry for Rohan,” Khanna said.