Leander Paes' Olympic participation depends on Rohan Bopanna's choice
French Open mixed doubles winner Leander Paes may see his participation at Rio 2016 in question this August. The now 18-time Grand Slam winner, who has won Olympic bronze – albeit in the singles – may not be able to participate in the Olympic Games in Brazil this year should Rohan Bopanna pick another partner.
Bopanna qualified for the Olympics on the back of his top 10 ranking following the conclusion of his French Open run with Romanian partner Florin Mergea, and as a result will get to choose his partner.
If Bopanna does not pick Paes as his doubles partner, that will leave the 42-year-old unable to participate in the mixed doubles event, which is India’s strongest bet at the Olympics. Paes would be hoping to partner women’s doubles World No. 1 Sania Mirza in his search for a medal.
The pair have each excelled at Grand Slams in 2015 – Paes in the mixed doubles and Mirza in the women’s doubles, each with Swiss legend Martina Hingis. Together they are likely to make a formidable team at the Olympic games – where Hingis will be partnered by men’s legend Roger Federer.
Due to the lack of enough top-ranked players, India can only field one men’s doubles team for the Olympics. The country’s tennis participation at the London Olympics of 2012 was seriously marred by internal politics, with Bopanna refusing to partner Leander Paes at the Games.
The All-India Tennis Association would eventually go on to field two men’s doubles teams, with Paes and Bhupathi unwilling to play with each other either. Bhupathi and Bopanna partnered each other, with Paes eventually partnering Vishnu Vardhan.
The AITA have yet to comment on the issue, but will likely be looking to placate the pair to maximise India’s chances of success at the Olympics.