Rio: Paes partners Bopanna, Saina-Bopanna for mixed doubles
New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) Doubles specialist Leander Paes' dreams of playing in a record seventh straight Olympics came true on Saturday after he was named with Rohan Bopanna as the Indian men's doubles team in Rio Olympics. Bopanna and Sania Mirza were picked for the mixed doubles while Sania will partner Prarthana Thombare in women's doubles.
Ignoring Bopanna's request for pairing him with Saketh Myneni, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) selection committee announced the decision after its meeting here.
Bopanna, who earned a direct Olympic entry based on his World No. 10 ranking in men's doubles, on Friday took everyone by surprise when he told AITA who he preferred as his men's doubles partner in Rio. The Olympics start on August 4.
In an apparent attempt to douse the fire, AITA President Anil Khanna said Bopanna respected Paes but he had his reasons to partner Myneni.
"Bopanna respects Paes, he has given us his reasons why he would prefer Myneni," Khanna told the media.
"Men's doubles more fortunate with Bopanna in top 10 and Paes at 46. Our decision is merely based on the best medal prospect," he added.
Paes recently completed a career slam after winning the French Open mixed doubles along with Swiss great Martina Hingis at Roland Garros.
Meanwhile, Sania, who had also given her preference to the AITA on Friday, is set to team up with Bopanna in the mixed-doubles category besides partnering Prarthana Thombare in women's doubles.
"Sania will partner Thombare in the women's doubles event," Khanna said.