| NEW DELHI, June 17
NEW DELHI, June 17 India's Leander Paes is
prepared to team up with friend-turned-foe Mahesh Bhupathi for
the London Olympics despite his personal preference to partner
someone else, the doubles specialist said.
The All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) is grappling with a
crisis of its own making after pairing Paes and Bhupathi
together for London, uniting two men who are not even on
speaking terms after a second acrimonious split last year.
Bhupathi had threatened to skip London if separated from his
regular partner Rohan Bopanna, who incidentally was Paes'
preferred choice for the Games.
"I have always maintained that I will play with whoever the
selection committee and AITA choose and this continues to be my
stand," Paes said in a statement late on Saturday.
"It is a well known fact that when asked by the AITA, I have
expressed my preference to play with Rohan Bopanna as my partner
in the Olympics 2012, based on his physical fitness and big
serve," added Paes, whose top-10 ranking gives him direct entry.
Bopanna is ranked 12th and Bhupathi 14th.
Paes, who claimed bronze in the singles event at the 1996
Atlanta Olympics, and Bhupathi formed a formidable partnership
in the late 1990s, winning three grand slams.
Soon their relationship soured and they parted ways, playing
together only when representing the country.
Even though Bhupathi is adamant that India should field two
doubles teams in London - saying he and Bopanna have qualified
as a partnership based on their rankings - AITA is unlikely to
"Mahesh should show some maturity," AITA president Anil
Khanna told reporters on Saturday. "They have to realise that
nation comes much before (their) commitment to each other."
Meanwhile, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has asked
the AITA to produce a report on their selection process.
"As the contingent for the Olympics is going under IOA's
banner, I would appreciate it if you (AITA) could let me know
the full details regarding this issue," IOA acting president
Vijay Kumar Malhotra wrote in his letter to Khanna.
"Our whole focus at the moment should be to send the best
medal prospects and I strongly believe that we have very good
chance of winning a medal in tennis this time,"
(Editing by John O'Brien)