The Indian tennis contingent have initiated their training regime ahead of what could possibly be the largest medal haul in a sport which hasn’t yielded as much success. At the 1996 Atlanta Games, Leander Paes won bronze in the Men’s individual event and he will now be gunning for gold with doubles partner Rohan Bopanna.
With the exit of the top-ranked Bryan brothers, a medal in Men’s doubles suddenly seems like a distinct possibility, despite the established differences between Bopanna and Paes. However, the 43-year old’s inability to attend the first few days of the training camp has raised several eyebrows within the fraternity.
In an interview with ESPN India, non-playing captain Zeeshan Ali said, “Yes, this is definitely not ideal preparation, and me being a selector too, with the Davis cup in Chandigarh two weeks back, the whole idea was to get both the players (Paes and Bopanna) to try and get as much practice as they can. So arriving on the 4th for a match that may be on the 6th is definitely not enough time.”
Baseless to say that Leander doesn’t want to share a room with Rohan Bopanna: AITA
Reports even surfaced suggesting Paes doesn’t want to share a room with Bopanna at the Games village. However, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) CEO Hiranmoy Chatterjee rubbished these rumours. He told Sportskeeda, “These particular rumours are baseless, Leander had informed us that he had prior committments and he will be reaching Rio today.
“We were aware throughout that he will be coming late, whethere it affects the team or not is a separate issue. But him not sharing a room with Bopanna is something that we are not aware of yet. We had spoken to him a few days earlier, to confirm his accomodation as well. Whether he changes his mind once he reaches Rio is a separate issue. He was supposed to come on August 1, but he clarified it with us,” Chatterjee added.
Leander’s father Vece Paes also confirmed his arrival on the evening of 4th August. He told Sportskeeda, “Leander has already left for Brazil and he will be reaching Rio on August 4 evening. Regarding the accomodation I’m not in the space to comment about it. However, I can tell you that he will be reaching in the evening.”
Heading into his seventh Olympics, Paes has been playing the World Team Tennis event in New York. The draws are scheduled to come out on Thursday, with Paes/Bopanna playing their opening round fixture as early as August 6.