Chennai: Leander Paes is hoping that there will be no repeat of a selection fiasco ahead of the Rio Olympics and feels he deserves to be paired with Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza for the men’s and mixed doubles events.
Recalling the drama ahead of 2012 London Olympics when Bopanna and Mahesh 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.
“In men’s doubles I believe the best team is Rohan and myself and likewise in mixed doubles it is Sania and myself. The fact is that neither (Sania and Rohan) has made any of the finals in mixed doubles in 2015. That being said, having won nine mixed doubles both on the deuce court and Ad-court -- I have won it on both side. I am adaptable to both sides. Also remember that we have won an Asian Games medal together,” 43- year-old Paes asserted.
Asked if he approached Bopanna for a partnership this season, leading upto Games, Paes said he did.
“I had asked Rohan whether he would like to partner me in Chennai Open and other tournaments coming to the Olympics. But, it seems he is set with his partnerships and he was not keen on my offer. I do feel it is important to play a few tournaments together in an Olympic year. I tried to do it in 2012 but unfortunately as that panned out, it was in complete shambles.”
Paes said he also spoke to Sania for forging mixed doubles partnership for the Rio Games.
“I have spoken with her a few times. Without shadow of a doubt when one goes by merit, winning three Grand Slams leading to the Olympics kind of speaks for itself.”
However, he clarified that he did not offer to play with Sania on the Tour this season since he was not keen to break his successful team with Swiss legend Martina Hingis as they won three Grand Slam trophies in 2015.
“To win three Grand Slams of four, you do not want to break that as it is not a bad achievement. Hence, Martina Hingis is one of the greatest partners that I have had. She is one of the legends of the game and a great partner too. So, I am playing with her in the Aussie Open.
“I hope that another shambles of selection does not happen. This coming summer, I think by about March or April, really is when the nominations go in. Regardless of what happens in the Aussie Open, U.S. Open and French Open this year, you look at the number of Grand Slams that I have won and also the men’s Grand Slams. I have in all won 33 Grand Slams. Think on merit, I should get a call.”