Leander’s dilemma: Would he or wouldn’t he be there at Rio

France Tennis French Open
Leander Paes, partnering Martina Hingis, against Sania/Dodig pair at the Frech Open final.

Gunning for his 7th Olympic games, Leander Paes showed no signs of ageing as the oldest player on the tennis court conquered Roland Garros Mixed doubles title to complete his Career Grandslam. Thus, becoming only the 3rd man on the planet to complete career Grand slam in both men’s doubles & mixed doubles.

Ironic as it might sound, Leander paes will try to complement Rohan in men’s doubles, however, will try to pip him to partner Sania for mixed doubles event.

Men’s Doubles Rigmarole

The Sluggish form of Leander in 2015 season in men’s doubles circuit has pushed his ranking to 46. The 1996 Atlanta Olympic’s bronze medalist is looking forward to partner Rohan Bopanna, if the latter desires.

Bopanna’s ticket for the upcoming Rio Olympics was confirmed as he was elevated to No. 10 in doubles ranking. ITF’s rules give direct entry to the player who is ranked in top-10 to partner anybody of his choice, regardless of the ranking of his partner. Thus, opening entry gates for other players including his former partner Purav Raja(103), Saketh Myneni(125), Mahesh Bhupathi(164), Yuki Bhambri(147 Singles), etc.

The hostile relation of Paes & Bopanna is known since the London Olympics, where the former, then the top-10 player, wanted to partner him, but the Bopanna’s reluctant behaviour to partner Paes and go into the games with Bhupathi forced Paes to partner Vishnu Vardhan.

Bopanna has already clarified that if he makes it to the top-10, which he now has, he would partner the player of his choice. Thus, leaving the participation of Paes in a grave quandary.

Mixed Doubles saga

Winning 4 of the 6 Grand slams, from Jan’15 (from Aus. Open) to Jun’ 16 (French Open) is no run-of-the-mill achievement. However, due to the fact that Leander’s performance has degenerated in men’s doubles over the same course, his ranking has plummeted as the mixed doubles’ performance doesn’t count in calculating the ranking points.

Paes has already stated that he wants to partner Sania Mirza, No. 1 ranked women’s doubles player, on behalf of his performance in the last one & half year in the mixed doubles arena.

On the other hands, Sania Mirza, who partners Rohan for Micromax Indian Aces in IPTL(International Premier tennis league), wouldn’t be looking forward to pair up with Paes despite winning Mixed Doubles Gold at Doha Asian games 2006 & partnering in 2012 London Olympics,where she was forced to partner Paes against her will to partner with Mahesh Bhupathi, her, then, regular partner.

Ironic as it might sound, Leander paes will try to complement Rohan in men’s doubles, however, will try to pip him to partner Sania for mixed doubles event.

Paes, although highly unlikely, can feature in both men’s doubles & mixed doubles event, however, there is a possibility that he might end up playing none. Both the above outcome are least likely to happen because if Paes persists in playing mixed doubles event, Rohan might not consider him for his doubles partner.

A Leander fan will, of course, want him to feature in the Rio Olympics in both mixed & men’s doubles format, but a Stalwart Indian sports fan would doubtlessly like to see the best possible team, that gels well & has the chance to win a medal for the country to be seen at the Rio Olympics.
Leander not featuring the Rio games, alas, will look incomplete as it has been a tradition for the past 6 games!

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