Leander Paes-Mahesh Bhupathi cannot refuse to play: AITA

The much talked Paes-Bhupati story took a new turn on Friday. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has announced that Leander Paes with Mahesh Bhupathi will share the court during London Olympics.

However, soon after the announcement, Bhupathi said in a press release, “It as a sad day for Indian tennis.”

Now, the tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi has urged the AITA to pair him with Rohan Bopanna. Though, AITA secretary-general Anil Khanna said, “Paes and Bhupathi have played four Olympics together. They played for India despite differences so we expect them to bury their differences and play for the nation at the London Olympics also. They have $6,000 every month from the government (to train). They cannot refuse to play.”

Mr. Khanna said, “There was a dilemma before us: whether to pick two pairs, one pair or just a medal-winning combination. The AITA executive committee as well as the selection committee decided to go for the pair that has the best chance for a medal.”

Regular partners, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna said in a press release, “As a team that is entitled to a direct acceptance based on ITF criteria, we are saddened to learn of the decision of the AITA selection committee to not nominate us for participation.”

The statement said, “To, instead, choose to nominate one that has had four previous unsuccessful attempts fails to put the interests of the nation first.”

Further, Tennis maestro Bhupati threatened to withdraw from the Olympics. He said, “I have already told AITA that I will not be available to play if I am paired with Leander. I haven’t even spoken to Leander since November.”

On the other hand, Khanna said, “The AITA was trying to get a wild card entry for Sania Mirza. We are trying to get a wild card for Sania for the women’s singles or doubles along with Rushmi Chakravarthi.”

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