Maken retreats, AITA backs Leander

TNI Bureau: A day after he backed Mahesh Bhupathi and slammed the All India Tennis Association (AITA), Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken has taken a retreat from the row, following which the top Tennis body came out in support of Leander Paes.

Maken refused to be part of the controversy, saying the Sports Ministry would support any decision taken by the AITA in national interest. The AITA has argued that Leander remains the No. 1 Tennis player in the country, he cannot be forced to pair with a No. 5 player when No. 2 and No. 3 players are available.

The AITA also wondered how two players can make a deal among themselves to isolate the top player. “This is not any professional ATP circuit that two players will decide on the partnership. It’s all about sending the Indian team to Olympics and the AITA would like to send the best possible winning combination”, it argued.

With Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna yet again refusing to partner with Leander, the issue has now reached a dead-end. Both Bhupathi and Bopanna could face a ban if they don’t comply with the AITA decision. If that happens, India’s medal hopes would be dashed and no Men’s Doubles team would be sent to 2012 London Olympics.

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