India has tennis brats, too, it turns out. And it might just take government intervention to sort 'em out.
The sports ministry has fired off a letter to the All India Tennis Association after a second top player has refused to partner with longtime star Leander Paes for the Olympics' men's doubles competition.
Earlier this week, Rohan Bopanna joined Mahesh Bhupathi in refusing to be paired with Paes, after Bhupathi had publicly snubbed the AITA's attempt to team him with his old partner by fait accompli, FirstPost reports.
Bopanna and Bhupathi had formed their own doubles team in hopes of playing in the Olympics together, only to see the AITA partner Bhupathi with Paes, a longtime partner with whom he has a well-known personal conflict.
Bopanna took the tactful route, saying, “Since the beginning of the year, I have partnered with Mahesh Bhupathi towards playing together as at team at the Olympics. This was communicated to the AITA at every step and we were encouraged to continue to play together.
“Having played alongside Leander Paes only twice during my career, I recognise that as a team we are under-prepared for the demands of the Olympics and, in good faith, I could not accept AITA’s offer that we play together.”
But the subtext is pretty clear. Paes is a great player. He and Bhupathi won a lot of matches together. And Paes has partnered with Martina Navratilova to win the mixed doubles competition at Wimbledon. So their must be some other reason nobody wants to play with him.
Check out some of his interviews online and draw your own conclusions.
But here's what the sports ministry had to say:
“The government has been funding and supporting multi players to train and qualify for the Olympics. The justification of denying two players, who have qualified as a team on merit by sending just one Indian team, when India can send two teams?” FirstPost quotes the ministry's letter to AITA as saying.
The letter also asked AITA to explain why the combination of Bhupathi and Bopanna was being ignored by them. The ministry also wanted to know if the AITA had spoken to all three players and whether their opinion have been taken before arriving at the decision, the web site said.