New Delhi: Faced with a pullout threat from Leander Paes, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) has sent one of its selectors to London to pacify the veteran who is miffed at not getting a partner of choice for the men’s doubles event at the London Olympics.
The world number seven doubles player, who is the only Indian to have got a direct entry into the Olympics on the basis of his top-10 ranking, is disappointed at being paired with a much lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan (world ranking 206) for the London event.
This came after AITA decided to send two teams to the Olympics, following Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna’s adamant refusal to pair with Paes and insistence on being sent as a team.
Media reports said Paes has demanded that AITA give to him in writing that he will partner Sania in mixed doubles. PTI. File photo According to the compromise formula worked out by the AITA, Paes will get to pair with Sania Mirza in the Olympics’ mixed doubles event if she gets a wildcard entry.
This pairing, however, would break her Australian Open and most recently French Open-winning team with Bhupathi.
Unable to please all, the AITA is trying hard to ensure that a miffed Paes does not withdraw from the Games. “Senior AITA selector Rohit Rajpal is being flown to London to speak to Paes and convince him over the two team formula,” an AITA source told PTI.
The compromise formula was announced barely hours before the deadline for sending entries expired.
This means that India will take part in at least three tennis events provided Sania gets a wildcard entry which is expected. Wildcards will be announced by the ITF on 28 June.
Put in a quandary, after the three top players threatened to opt out of the mega event, AITA conceded that its decision was “not fair” in all respects but was in the “best interest of the nation”.
AITA praised Paes by describing him as the most patriotic player and appealed to him to partner Vardhan.