New Delhi: It’s official now. Legendary Leander Paes is taking part in his record seventh Olympics as All India Tennis Association (AITA) selection committee has announced that Paes will partner Rohan Bopanna in the doubles while Bopanna will pair up with Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles event of the Rio Olympics due to start in a couple of months.
Besides the men’s doubles and mixed doubles, according to AITA supremo Anil Khanna, Sania and Prarthana Thombare will represent India in the women’s doubles category.
Earlier, Bopanna earned the ticket to Rio by virtue of his top 10 ATP ranking in the doubles and had chosen Saketh Myneni as his preferred partner in the mega event. Bopanna had shot off a letter to the AITA making his intentions clear, but AITA being the governing body of tennis in India took a different call simply in the best interest of the country.
Bopanna’s statement said: “A direct acceptance provides me the right to nominate my men’s doubles partner, an opportunity for me to exercise my judgement as to the best possible partner for me. I have, earlier today, communicated my decision to the AITA.”
But AITA took the call keeping in mind India’s best chances for a medal from the sport. “He (Bopanna) has given reasons to selection committee on why he feels Saketh could be a better doubles partner. But he has also made it clear that he wants to represent the nation. It was a well-meaning letter (which Bopanna wrote yesterday to AITA). Leander and Rohan have played four times in Davis Cup, they have a 2-2 record,” Khanna told the media in New Delhi.
“Committee decided that the best bet for Indian tennis to win a medal at the Olympics would be Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna,” Khanna added.
Khanna announced that Bopanna and Sania will be the best medal hopes in the mixed doubles category. “The committee has decided to nominate Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles competition,” he concluded.