Leander Paes threatens to withdraw from Olympics

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Leander Paes
Bangalore, Jun 20: There seems to be no end to the crisis in Indian tennis. Now, the country's top-ranked doubles player Leander Paes has written to the All India Tennis Association (AITA) threatening to pull out of London Olympics 2012, if he is forced to partner a junior player.

The ongoing controversy took a new turn on Wednesday with Paes clearly not willing to go to London with a far lesser ranked player other than Mahesh Bhupathi or Rohan Bopanna.

In his letter, addressed to Bharat Oza, Honourary Secretary General of AITA, Paes wrote: "Representing India at the Olympics is a cherished dream, and one in which I have agreed to participate unconditionally, with the understanding that we would aim to put our best team forward and target a medal. I have been ATP ranked at No. 1 in the world as a team and No. 7 in the world individually, for the first 6 months of 2012. By virtue of this I have got a direct entry into the Men's Doubles at the Olympics with the right to choose my partner.

"I would also bring to your notice that Sania and I, by virtue of our combined ranking of No. 19 on the ATP Tour have got a direct entry in the Mixed Doubles at the Olympics.

"Coming back to the Men's Doubles, I am comfortable to partner Mahesh or Rohan for the forthcoming Olympics. If Mahesh and Rohan refuse to play with me for our country, then I am happy to play with the next best player that AITA decides on."

He continued: "However, it would not be acceptable if with my ranking as the best Indian tennis player I give up the best option of partner for winning a medal for my country and I am made to play the Olympics with a player ranked 207/306 in the world while the No.13 and No. 15 ranked players form another team together based on their refusal to play with me."

"If this is the case then for the sake of Indian Tennis and to relieve the AITA in regards to the selection of the team, I have no other option but to withdraw from the Olympics."

"This decision is not taken lightly and with any rancor. We cannot be condoning or rewarding the drama enacted by Mahesh and Rohan. This would be a bad precedent for current and future sports persons (particularly tennis players) in our country."

Meanwhile, AITA) failed to arrive at a decision despite hectic parleys with feuding players on the issue on Wednesday. They would decided on the team on Thursday.

Tomorrow is the last date for submitting entries to International Tennis Federation (ITF) and AITA is still trying to convince Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna to drop their demand of playing together.

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