The Indian tennis triangle can be a tricky issue to solve if you get emotional about the achievements and services of both Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi.
It has become a pain for the All India Tennis Association and rightly so, because they have been the ones procrastinating over things, as reveals the letter from Rohan Bopanna, the third man to form the triangle.
Quite clearly the issue needs to be dealt with a strong hand now that it has been days into the row with no signs of anyone backing off.
An iron hand, which relies on facts, needs to be dealt. However when one is not sure or the dilemma is 50:50, the common approach is to test-fire a balloon, a la the West Wing series or the movie Extraordinary Measures.
Paes is world No 7, the highest-ranked, so whether Bhupathi likes it or not and even he is justified, his 11th position means rank has to be pulled. Bopanna is 14th and the weakest link.
Yet Bopanna says: “Since the beginning of the year, I have partnered with Mahesh Bhupathi towards playing together as a 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.”
Two things for Rohan. Yes, he prepared. But the two still came behind Paes. Sport is about who came first (Paes, for practical purposes in this three-legged race).
Secondly he said: ‘as a team (with Paes) we are under-prepared for the demands of Olympics’. He is still under-prepared either ways in the scheme of things based on his ranking. So if anyone has to go, it is him.
Again two ways to test fire the balloon:
1) AITA declares only one team to go and that means Paes-Bhupathi on ranking. Take it or leave it. Better not to send a team at all if it is not on their terms. Ultimately the players long-standing reputation and business-personal interests will take a hit if they refuse.
2) Announce the pairing of Paes and Bopanna. That leaves the call on Bhupathi. If he refuses, he still gets a consolation prize should he and Sania Mirza play in the mixed doubles. Besides Bopanna is a one-trick pony too, with a big serve as his only strong point. Like with Bhupathi, Paes at the net forms the foil nicely.
What do you think? Caste your vote now.
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