Leander Paes has indicated to the All India Tennis Association (Aita) that he may withdraw from the 2012 London Olympics.
In a statement sent to Aita on Wednesday, Paes said: “If Mahesh (Bhupathi) or Rohan (Bopanna) refuse to play with me for our country, then I am happy to play with the next best player that the Aita decides on.
“However, it would not be acceptable, if with my ranking as the best Indian tennis player, I give up the best option of partner for winning a medal for my country and am made to play the Olympics with a player ranked 207/306 in the world while the No.13 and No. 15 ranked players form another team together based on their refusal to play with me.
“If this is the case then for the sake of Indian tennis and to relieve the Aita in regards to the selection of the team, I have no other option but to withdraw from the Olympics,” Paes said.
The men’s doubles combination for the Olympics will be known only on Thursday, for Aita failed to arrive at a decision on the issue on Wednesday. Thursday is the last date for submitting entries to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Aita is still trying to convince Bhupathi and Bopanna to drop their demand of playing together.
Making a racket: Bhupathi (left) and Paes during the 2011 ATP World Tour in London. Glyn Kirk/AFP
The officials are in touch with all three players, who are in London.
If Bhupathi and Bopanna refuse to relent, Aita could consider pairing Paes with Vishnu Vardhan (doubles ranking 207) or Yuki Bhambri (306) as the second doubles team. Paes has indicated he will not accept this.
“This decision is not taken lightly and with any rancour,” added Paes in his statement about the possibility of withdrawing. “We cannot be condoning or rewarding the drama enacted by Mahesh and Rohan. This would be a bad precedent for current and future sportspersons (particularly tennis players) in our country.”