'Excited to play with Bopanna'

'Excited to play with Bopanna'

A relieved Mahesh Bhupathi found it hard to believe that he was finally getting to play with Rohan Bopanna in the Olympics, after six days of relentless defiance against the All India Tennis Association's decision to pair him with Leander Paes put their participation in jeopardy. 

The AITA selection committee had paired Bhupathi with Paes on June 15 despite the former’s insistence to pair up with Bopanna. What followed were staunch denials, furious outbursts, letters to Sports Ministry and External Affairs Minister and AITA's life-time president SM Krishna. AITA has convyed their final decision to the players on Thursday.
“It’s great that we are getting to play in the Olympics. In the last few days, there were times we doubted whether we will be able to play. We are really excited and happy with the decision. It is yet to sink in,” Bhupathi told Deccan Herald. “The last week a lot of drama unfolded in the public which we did not want. But we were not left with any option. It is good that two teams are going for the Olympics.” 

Bhupathi, who partnered Paes in the last four Olympics, hoped his partnership with Bopanna will flourish at London. “I am happy for Rohan. He deserved to play. We will be working hard in the coming month and do well in Wimbledon. It will be a good practice for us before the Games. We are not thinking about anything as of now,” he said.

Asked whether the whole controversy could add to the pressure, Bhupathi said: “ In Olympics, pressure is always there. We have been playing together for the last seven months and will do our best.” 

However, according to the revised team combination, Bhupathi will not get to play with Sania Mirza with whom he reached three Grand Slam finals and won two. “We will wait and see,” Bhupathi said. “ In sports, there should be no compromise. The idea should be to send the best doubles team. We hope Sania gets a wildcard on June 28.” 

Bhupathi was also happy for Vishnu Vardhan, who was picked to partner Paes. “ I am sure he must be over the moon. He had a couple of good tournaments, it will be a great experience for him to have someone as experienced as Leander partnering him.”

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