AITA to send 2 teams for Olympics, pairs Paes with Vishnu

Bhupathi-Bopanna

Putting an end to speculation, AITA today worked out a compromise formula by agreeing to pair Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna for the men's doubles and teamed up Leander Paes with Sania Mirza for the mixed doubles event of the London Olympics.

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With the tennis feud spilling out in public, the All India Tennis Association (AITA), which had taken a tough stand against Bhupathi and Bopanna, finally yielded by deciding to send two teams to next month's Games, saying it was a "calculated risk".

Despite Paes' pullout threat on being paired with a junior player, AITA chose 206th ranked Vishnu Vardhan as his partner for the men's doubles and hoped that he will abide by the decision.

The AITA decision means that Bhupathi, who is paired with desired partner Bopanna, will have to miss the mixed doubles event.

Sania, whose participation depends on wild card, had wished to be paired with Bhupathi since they gel well as a team but said she was ready to play with any player that AITA chooses.

Paes, who was keen to play men's doubles with a senior pro such as Bhupathi or Bopanna, will now have a shot at a medal in the mixed doubles with Sania.

Put in a quandary, after the three top players threatened to opt out of the mega event, AITA conceded that its decision was "not fair" in all respects but was in the "best interest of the nation".

AITA came out in wholesome praise of Paes, describing him as patriotic and appealed to him to partner Vardhan.

"In the given circumstances, the best option is of sending two teams. We are fully aware that Leander Paes, our great tennis player and undoubtedly the most patriotic one, who has the record of most David Cup appearances for India and has served the nation for over 25 years, had been driven to the wall and had to react sharply yesterday much against his true character," AITA President Anil Khanna told reporters.

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