Rohan Bopanna refused to play with me this year in lead up to Rio Olympics: Leander Paes


New Delhi: Indian tennis ace Leander Paes on Monday revealed that Rohan Bopanna has refused to pair with him ahead of the Rio Olympics to be held this year.
The 42-year-old said that Bopanna refused to play with him ahead of biggest sporting extravaganza even though he believes it’s important to play few tournaments together.

“I had asked Rohan if he would like to play with me this year in the lead up to Rio, but he has turned me down saying he is very comfortable with Florin Mergea and would like to continue that,” Paes told the Times of India.

Paes is in red hot form after winning three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles with Martina Hingis last season.

Hoping that he will get a chance to partner Sania Mirza at Rio Games, Paes added, “I certainly hope I am India’s front runner in mixed doubles. I want to compete with Sania at the Olympics. It will be India’s best chance of winning a medal. Rohan has never made it to a mixed doubles final and Sania hasn’t been in one in 2015. On the other hand, I have won three Grand Slams, playing both on the deuce and ad courts. So my record proves it for me.”

Back in 2012, Paes had threatened to pull out of the London Olympics after Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi formed their own doubles team together, leaving Paes to partner with an unheralded Vishnu Vardhan. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) had then made amends with Paes by naming Sania Mirza his mixed doubles partner.

Earlier, recalling the drama ahead of 2012 London Olympics when Bopanna and Bhupathi refused to pair with him, Paes said dirty politics was played at that time and it should not happen this time around.

“I hope that does not happen again in doubles or mixed doubles. I believe, selection should be on merit. To win three mixed doubles Grand Slams in 2015 leading to the Olympic year I certainly hope that I am India’s front runner in Rio in mixed doubles,” Paes said as he geared up to open his 2016 campaign at the Chennai Open.


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