A set of players are as good as team when they share love both on and off the field irrespective of their skills.
This decision arrived at the midst of chaos where Mahesh Bhupathi said he didn’t want to pair with Leander Paes. In a media report, which showed the email exchanges between Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna (Joint) and AITA revealed that both wanted to play together and not want to pair up with Leander Paes.
In the email sent by Bhupathi and Bopanna as joint read, ” Both of us (Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna) are considered for selection as a doubles team only and not as individual players to be paired with any other players who might be eligible for Men’s Doubles selection.“
So, even after open request from Bhupathi, AITA decided against his will and paired him with Leander Paes for Olympics.
India can field two teams
India can field two doubles teams in Olympics depending on the combination they select. Leander Paes, ranked No.7 in ATP doubles rankings, automatically qualifies for Olympics. So, he can pair with any Indian player on the Olympics. Bopanna and Bhupathi, ranked at 12th and 14th respectively can play as another doubles teams since their combined ranking is less then 50.
Dirty politics in selection
There was also rumor that some politics played in the AITA selection. In twitter, Rahul Mehra said to Mahesh Bhupathi, ” I’m made 2understand dat dirty politics is being played by AITA who has asked IOA & Ministry members to vote on selections?” In return, Mahesh Bhupathi acknowledged the statement, ” u are correct unfortunately…“
Bhupathi -Bopanna issued joint press release
Excerpts from statement are,
“We have repeatedly and consistently communicated to the AITA our desire to only be considered for selection as a team and not as individuals to be paired with any other players. This was on the basis that we are a team legitimately entitled to a Direct Acceptance to the Olympics by virtue of our rankings. It is indeed disappointing that the AITA has chosen to disregard our request. “
“Moreover, choosing to send only one team when India was entitled to two denies two highly accomplished players of the privilege and opportunity to represent the country at the Olympics. This is a sad day for Indian tennis from all perspectives.“
Finally they concluded by pledging to protest till the end, ” We are sure that there have been multiple considerations leading to this decision but are hopeful that better sense will prevail before the ITF’s team nomination deadline of June 21, 2012. We will continue to make our case to all concerned over the next few days.”
Being the India’s best player, Leander Paes deserves to get the best partner. But when someone who is refusing to play with him is not the ideal candidate for him to pair with. Since both Bhupathi and Bopanna want to play only together not with anyone else, leaves Somdev as only option as pair for Leander.
Leander Paes, who is undoubtedly the best doubles player surely knows how much mutual understanding helps on the field of play. It is near impossible to establish that kind of understanding to someone who dislikes him. But pairing with a new player (Somdev) and creating a chemistry in short time (41 days to go for Olympics) is difficult but not impossible.
Also if Bhupathi is not selected to play doubles in Olympics, then he can’t pair with Sania Mirza in mixed doubles. Sania openly said he want to play with Mahesh Bhupathi only at Olympics.
Why not Leander – Somdev?
Somdev is injured currently which is what adding more complexity to this problem. He is expected to be fit for Olympics but what if he can’t? will leave Leander Paes missing his last Olympics. For a player who gave so much joy and pride to us, it will be utter disgraceful act on our part when this happens.
Quality over Quantity?
We can say that Leander and Mahesh are our best players but they hadn’t played together for some time now. Moreover, Mahesh has repeatedly said that he don’t want to play with Leander Paes. So, why this all fuss that they are our best pair? they are our best two players but not best pair.
if you speak from history, then remember that their combination had failed to bring a medal from Olympics till now.
Leave the ball in Leander Paes court to decide. I think, that’s the most fitting gesture from AITA and best problem solving move. Let Leander Paes decide his partner and his fate. After all, he is the only player who got automatic qualification for Olympics. So, he deserves to pick his choice from the possible options.
Even Paes will acknowledge the fact that at present, Bhupathi and Bopanna are best Indian doubles pair. So, let them have their cake. Leander Paes who had fought many difficulties to produce magic again and again in his long career, will surely don’t feel in different world with this new challenge at the fade end of his career.
Bhupathi – Bopanna need justice but Leander Paes deserves the best offered even more!