Olympian Vece Paes has slammed the All Indian Tennis Association’s decision to pair his son Leander with World No 328 Vishnu Vardhan at the London Olympics, saying the move was unfair on the country’s highest-ranked player.
AITA announced on Thursday that they will send two teams to London. Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna got their way and will be the second Indian doubles team to compete at the Games.
“Leander will be disappointed with this decision, it is very unfair on him,” Vece told a TV channel. “He is a highly principled as well as an emotional man, so difficult to say which way he will go. I don’t think Leander will agree with AITA’s decision.”
Paes on Wednesday threatened to pull out if asked to pair with a junior player.
Last week, the AITA announced that Bhupathi would partner Paes at the Games. But both Bhupathi and Bopanna, who qualify for the Olympics as a team, refused to pair with the Atlanta Games bronze medallist.
“Things have changed drastically over the past two days. Leander has always compromised while playing for the country. I think now he is tired of doing that,” Vece added.
“Two people are blackmailing the country and this decision sets a bad precedent for others.”
Meanwhile, Krishna Bhupathi, Mahesh’s father, said he was delighted with the men’s doubles decision but disagreed with Leander pairing up with Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles.
“I am thrilled about the doubles team going. Mahesh and Rohan have a reasonable chance to win a medal. Their chances will depend on the kind of draw they get,” he said.
“But AITA’s decision is misleading on mixed doubles. There is no direct entry for Leander and Sania,” he said referring to Sania’s participation, which hinges on a wild card.