Rio Olympics 2016: Rohan Bopanna issues statement over his pairing with Leander Paes for the Games
Rohan Bopanna has released a statement after the team selections for the Rio Olympics, explaining why he initially preferred Saketh Myneni ahead of veteran Leander Paes. He was clearly not happy about the All India Tennis Association (AITA)’s announcement of the team. The AITA has paired Bopanna with Paes for men’s doubles category for the Rio Olympics 2016.
According to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) rules, any player ranked in the top 10 of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) doubles ranking gets a luxury to nominate a player as his partner for the games. Bopanna, who is currently ranked 10th in the ranking sent a preference request for a considerably inexperienced 28-year Saketh Myneni who is presently ranked at 125, ahead of the 46-ranked veteran Paes.
He stated his relevant conversations with the AITA in the statement and talked about technical aspects of the game to justify his request.
“I have chosen Saketh based on a careful weighing of whose game will complement mine at Rio, given my own skills, strengths and weaknesses. As you will see from my track record, I have consistently had success with partners who have big weapons, a serve, a forehand. In that sense, the ranking of the player in doubles is far less important than what he brings to the partnership.
I have played with over 70 partners in my career and that has given me the ability to gauge what type of player works well with me and what doesn’t,” he said.
India’s Tennis campaign suffered heavily during the London Olympics 2012 due to differences between the two players. Bopanna teamed up with Mahesh Bhupathi in that tournament and Paes was left to play with an inexperienced Vishnu Vardhan and AITA definitely wanted to deny a repetition of the same.
The 36-year old also mentioned his past performances with the evergreen Paes and added, “I have much admiration for Leander Paes and his many achievements, but unfortunately we have not been able to put together a good combination despite our best efforts and I do not believe our styles of play are either compatible or complementary.
“Considering that this is a team event where two individuals need to gel together to do well, regardless of individual achievements, it is the team and the combination that matters. The AITA Selection Committee has now made its decision after due consideration of my representation and has selected the team for the Olympics. I respect this decision and look forward to participating in Rio.”
AITA CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee earlier made it clear that the AITA selection committee will choose the best team for the tournament and will be under no pressure to pick a combination on the basis of preference. Bopanna will also play with Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles category at the Rio Olympics.