NEW DELHI: Indian tennis officials on Tuesday criticised two players for refusing to team up with Leander Paes, the country’s top doubles seed, at the Olympics.
Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi have both turned down the offer to play with Paes, with the All India Tennis Association (AITA) facing a deadline to name its final pairings by Thursday.
Paes and Bhupathi have represented India at four previous Olympics, but fell out in a public row.
Bopanna and Bhupathi want to play together but the AITA said in a statement that it was wrong for them to reject the chance to play with the higher ranked Paes.
“Two players cannot make a pact with each other to keep the number one player out,” it said in response to criticism from the sports ministry over the selection dispute.
“It would be meaningless to send Leander with a junior player… Leander being the best player must be paired with either Rohan Bopanna or Mahesh Bhupathi.”
Paes’ number seven doubles world ranking gives him direct entry to the London Games and allows him to play with any ranked player.
Bhupathi and Bopanna also make the cut as a team, but if AITA insists on pairing Bhupathi with Paes, then Bopanna cannot make it to the Games with any other Indian player.
If Bhupathi and Bopanna combine as a team, Paes would have to play with a lower-ranked and inexperienced player.