Rio Olympics 2016: Leander Paes does not want a repeat of London 2012 confusion
Rohan Bopanna has claimed a spot in doubles Top 10 and now it's upon him to choose his double partner.
Leander Paes has spearheaded the Indian Tennis brigade at the world stage for over two decades now. Having completed his mixed doubles career Grand Slam at the Roland Garros last week, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics singles bronze medalist now awaits the decision on his participation in Rio 2016 by the All India Tennis Association's selection committee meeting which is expected to arrive on 11th June.
Speaking on the current Indian scenario, the 18-time doubles Grand Slam winner expressed concerns around the likely progress towards a repeat of the disastrous 2012 episode ahead of the London Olympics.
That year, it was Leander who earned direct entry into the Games and had the option of choosing his partner by merit of his Top 10 ranking, but saw his wish to team up with Rohan Bopanna turned down because of the latter’s unwillingness.
Eventually, two men’s doubles teams were fielded by the AITA – one of Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi and the other with Leander and 304th placed Vishnu Vardhan in London. Regrettably enough, both teams returned without a medal for India.
In the latest ATP rankings released on June 6, Rohan Bopanna has claimed a spot in doubles Top 10. It's now upon him to pick who gets to play alongside him in Rio. Given his reluctance to pair up with Leander, and since he has already expressed his unwillingness to budge this time around as well, loud alarm bells have started ringing across the whole country.
It’s in this context that Leander endorsed the promising aspects should he get the go-ahead to represent India as Rohan’s doubles partner in the upcoming Olympics. Both him and Bopanna are in striking form having made the quarter-finals in the recently concluded French Open and he has complete faith in the AITA to send the country’s best tennis duo to Rio.
It so happens that after Leander, 125th ranked Saketh Myneni is the only probable alternative for Rohan – certainly not a wise pick if he desires to achieve the highest for India at the Olympic Games.
Leander’s French Open title has, therefore, come at an opportune moment as he himself, has stated. A favourable announcement will see the 42-year-old make his 7th consecutive Olympic appearance at Rio in Men’s Doubles tennis, for, in Mixed Doubles, indications are clear that Bopanna will partner current World No. 1 in Women's Doubles, Sania Mirza.