Calcutta: Here’s one for Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Rohan Bopanna, who has joined forces with Mahesh Bhupathi over not pairing up with Leander Paes, wanted to be the latter’s partner in the upcoming London Olympics.
Indeed, The Telegraph is in possession of an e-mail from Bopanna to Paes, sent on October 18 last year, wherein Bopanna listed the events where he and Paes could team up. The calendar included two Davis Cup engagements and,
this is the clincher, the Olympics!
It was some 10 days prior to the e-mail that Paes and Bopanna had (after a meeting in Shanghai) more or less decided to play as a team in 2012, after the end of Paes’ latest innings with Bhupathi and the end of Bopanna’s successful partnership with Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi.
That Paes and Bhupathi would again go separate ways was mutually decided upon after their early exit at Big W. They’d flopped in the 2011 French Open as well.
According to a well-placed source, who spoke on condition that he wouldn’t be identified, Paes telephoned Bopanna on getting the e-mail and said that he was fine with the tournaments on the Tour, but could give no guarantee on playing together in the Davis Cup and in the Olympics.
Paes is the only Indian ranked in the top-10, in the doubles, a position which gives him privileges.
The well-placed source elaborated: “Paes’ point was that the All India Tennis Association (AITA) and its selectors would decide on the doubles pair for the Davis Cup and for the Olympics, that individual players, no matter how big, couldn’t take that call.”
Less than 24 hours after that conversation, Bhupathi (and, strangely, not Bopanna) telephoned Paes to drop a bombshell: He told Paes that he and Bopanna had reached an agreement to be partners in 2012.
Understandably, Paes didn’t quite know how to react as he’d been back-stabbed. Over the past few days, of course, it’s Paes who has been accused of being a back-stabber. Of being the villain of the piece.
Paes, obviously, was justified in making no commitment where pairing up for India was concerned. He went by the book, recognising that matters of selection rested with the AITA, but Bopanna chose to quickly negotiate terms and conditions with fellow-Bangalorean Bhupathi.
Bopanna’s e-mail to Paes puts him in the dock and he has much explaining to do.
While Bopanna has been partnering Bhupathi on the Tour this year, Paes has had four partners in six months.
Paes, who is in London, wasn’t available for a comment. However, one learns he is very upset, more so, as he believes the biggest loser over the past few days has been Indian tennis.