New Delhi: Sports Minister Ajay Maken on Monday questioned the All India Tennis Association’s decision to pair feuding former partners Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi for the Olympics, asking why just one team is being insisted upon for the event where the country can send two.
“We can send 2 teams, why send 1? Hidden question is on who should pair Sania? Why disturb victorious Grand Slam mixed double pair?” asked Maken in his latest post on social networking site Twitter.
The estranged duo of Paes and Bhupathi have been declared AITA’s picks for the Olympics even though the latter has made it clear in no uncertain terms that he was not willing to team up with his former partner.
Paes, with a top-10 ATP ranking, is entitled to pick a partner of choice for the big event. Bhupathi, on the other hand, can make the draw as a team with his current partner Rohan Bopanna on the basis of their combined ranking.
Bhupathi has insisted on being paired with Bopanna with whom he joined hands at the start of the season specifically with Olympics on mind.
Bhupathi has reacted to sharply to AITA’s decision saying that he would not share court with someone who “backstabbed” him by breaking up the partnership last season despite being well aware that 2012 is an Olympic year.
With Bopanna also refusing to team up with Paes, sighting his pact and on-court camaraderie with Bhupathi, the AITA is left with massive feud to resolve besides finding a partner for Paes.
AITA had earlier warned that disciplinary action will be taken against the player, who refuses to be part of the team. If Bopanna too sticks to his stand than AITA may be left with no option but to select a youngster such as Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri to team up with Paes.
Paes and Bhupathi have played four Olympics together but have never won a medal. Paes though won a singles bronze medal at 1996 Atlanta Olympics.