AITA double-faults Bopanna ace
One should give it to Rohan Bopanna for the maturity he has shown that has helped stave-off a potential crisis ahead of India’s quest for Olympic glory at Rio.
One should give it to Rohan Bopanna for the maturity he has shown that has helped stave-off a potential crisis ahead of India’s quest for Olympic glory at Rio. There is no denying that the All India Tennis Association (AITA) found itself in as worse a situation as it was before the national team embarked on the 2012 Games at London. One is not sure whether Bopanna, the country’s top ranked men doubles player, has become wiser from the ‘once bitten twice shy’ adage or whether it was the aura of Olympics that made him surrender his right to choose a partner but what he did eventually is the ultimate tribute to the sportsmanship spirit in him.
Had he struck to his guns and insisted on having Saketh Myneni as his partner for the men's doubles competition at Rio, it would have been back to square one for AITA. Thankfully, he agreed to go in with old warhorse Leander Paes, a veteran of six Olympics, despite Bopanna claiming that the two cannot complement each other on the court. If national interests matter, then AITA could end up regretting its largesse for a man who has been there and done that. Of course, Paes has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and the country and his exploits have been the stuff of legends. None can deny his credentials when it comes to representing India in the big ones.
That he is in top form gets evidenced by the manner he and Martina Hingis won the French Open mixed doubles title the other day. Doubles combinations work only when the on-court chemistry syncs and this is unlikely when Bopanna and Paes turn up at the Olympic courts. Irrespective of how the two perform in the hour of reckoning, one feels sorry for Bopanna, because AITA, in its obsession to green-signal Paes’ dreams, has cold-shouldered a player who secured a direct ticket to the Games by virtue of his top 10 ATP ranking.
On that count, world number one Sania Mirza must be thanking her stars because she sought Bopanna for mixed doubles and the Association obliged. This also exposes the doublespeak of AITA. If Paes is the ‘best bet’ alongside Bopanna why should the seasoned campaigner not have the same equation in mixed doubles? Paes has often stated that Rio would be nothing short of accomplishing seventh Heaven bliss. But the authorities should not heed to a player’s individual dream, whatever be his exploits considering that no player is greater than the sport itself.
Even as he gets a record seventh Olympics, can anyone actually predict that the Paes-Bopanna duo will clear the first hurdle. Javed Miandad was ‘accommodated’ in the national squad as he wished to become the first player to play in six consecutive ODI world cups. It was a regrettable decision because he was a pale shadow of his former self and ended up as a non-performing asset. At least, Paes has been in wonderful form, although taking him on board could be a gamble that could backfire.