Weeks before the London 2012 Olympics began, an epic saga unfolded on the Indian Tennis main front. Two of the biggest names in Indian Tennis history had developed such a kind of dislike for each other that they had to place personal issues in front of the nation’s medal prospects!
Neither Leander Paes nor Mahesh Bhupathi had any plans of competing together and improve India’s medal winning chances. Little did they know that disastrous results awaited them in the near future. Bhupathi, who ended up getting what he wanted via partnering Rohan Bopanna, literally caused heads to hang in shame as he went down in straight sets against the second best French Team in the fray. However, Leander who appeared to be flexible from the beginning went on to put up a more decent show as the duo of him and Vishnu went down fighting against two champion French tennis stars in Tsonga and Llodra.
Singles never held much hopes for the Indians and Somdev facing Niemenen in the first round did not help one bit. The story of Sania Mirza has got a whole different element to it. The wildcard which she recieved had a lot of impact on Paes’s mind set and influenced his decision to participate in the Olympics. A tough draw, however, ruined the medal chances in Mixed Doubles. On top of this, her usual partner Mahesh wasn’t given the chance to partner her since Paes ( the higher ranked player) wouldn’t otherwise be a part of the Olympic contingent. Note that this was nothing short of blackmail so all the flexibility that he appeared to show is highly debatable.
In the end the team perhaps got what it deserved. When you have a scenario with two top class professional having ego battles and holding personal grudges to tamper the medal winning chances and a third player in Bopanna who seized the opportunity to make it work in his favour and finally the inexperienced Vishnu being pushed into play from nowhere, little does one expect from you. Forget winning, even a place in the semis was looking elusive from the start. The case of Sania Mirza is debatable and perhaps one can excuse her though. However, that gives us no reason to point out how inconsistent she can be at times.
All in all, Indian Tennis has a hit an all-time low with this episode. Paes and Bhupathi obviously will never get together again and what they have done to ruin the chances of a sure shot medal in 2012 will be remembered through out the ages. A black phase for Indian Tennis and Sport. Lets hope the shroud clears and we take off with a fresh start soon enough.