Published June 15, 2012
A row has erupted within Indian tennis after doubles duo Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna were prevented from competing as a team at the London Olympics.
The All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) has ignored the pair's pleas not to be separated and chosen instead to partner Bhupathi with Leander Paes, a partnership that delivered three grand slam titles before an acrimonious split.
Bhupathi and Bopanna, who are currently playing doubles at Queen's Club in London, have called on AITA to reconsider their decision before the June 21 deadline.
"We are saddened to learn of the decision of the AITA selection committee to not nominate us for participation in the men's doubles tennis event at the Games," Bopanna and Bhupathi said in a joint statement.
"We have repeatedly and consistently communicated to the AITA our desire to only be considered for selection as a team and not as individuals to be paired with any other players."
AITA, however, have chosen to go with a tried and trusted formula, even if it comes with baggage.
Bhupathi and Paes formed a formidable partnership in the late 1990s winning the French Open and Wimbledon in 1999 before claiming a second Roland Garros title two years later.
Their relationship gradually deteriorated, however, and they ceased to play together on the tour circuit from 2002.
After coming together for the Asian Games in 2006, they announced they would never play as a pair again before putting their differences aside to compete at the Beijing Olympics.
They played together at the Australian Open in 2011 and Paes even attended Bhupathi's wedding to former Miss Universe Lara Dutta.
But on court things appeared to have turned sour again as Paes, a singles bronze-medalist from the 1996 Atlanta Games, has effectively been left without a top-class Olympic sidekick since his tour partners this year have been from Europe.
Paes, who completed his collection of men's doubles grand slam titles after triumphing at the Australian Open in January with Czech partner Radek Stepanek, was given direct entry into the Olympic doubles thanks to his top 10 ranking.
Bopanna is ranked 12th and Bhupathi is 14th.
"We believe that ignoring a combination that is fully committed, dedicated and prepared is an unjustifiable compromise," Bhupathi and Bopanna added in their statement.
"To not send one of the best tennis teams in the world to the Olympics - and to, instead, choose to nominate one that has had four previous unsuccessful attempts - fails to put the interests of the nation first.
"Moreover, choosing to send only one team when India was entitled to two denies two highly accomplished players of the privilege and opportunity to represent the country at the Olympics.
"This is a sad day for Indian tennis from all perspectives."
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by xx)