Rio 2016: Indian men’s tennis team, Leander Paes-Rohan Bopanna crashes out


The first round men's doubles loss that Indian pair of Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes suffered on Saturday. There could well be thousands of reasons, from good form of Poland's Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski to seeding difference of both Indians that restricted them playing together ever since they were 'forced' together by the All India Tennis Association (AITA). But the one factor which actually could be seen on the court was "the absence of trust" in each other.

For the news, India duo was knocked out 4-6, 6-7 (6-8) by the Polish pair, thus, ending Paes' dream of an Olympic medal in the doubles in his seventh and possibly last Olympic appearance. After surrendering the first set in 32 minutes at the Olympic Tennis Centre, Paes-Bopanna fought hard for 52 minutes before bowing out in the first round.

Though, the 43-year-old bronze medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Games never really looked like being on top of his game on Saturday, it was Bopanna, who got an opportunity to fold up the second game with his serve at 5-4. He again had a chance in the tie-breaker at 6-5.

Controversies, no tennis

Even before the start of Rio carnival, Bopanna and Paes started playing mind games to settle old scores. Bopanna was the first one to ask "whereabouts of Paes two days before the match". Paes answered it in his own cleaver style saying "one who was winning was away playing and who all lost were here practising" to hot up the issue.

If Bopanna chose to skip Opening Ceremony and rest at his Olympic Village apartment before the next morning game. Then Paes was happily enjoying his time with rest of the Indian contingent at the Maracana Stadium. He kept tweeting till late hours even after the ceremony.

In the end, the two of them were only together during the two practice sessions here in Rio.

Was that enough?

For Paes, playing matches were more important than practising. For Bopanna, to spend time together what was promised to him by AITA while 'selecting' his partner was in his mind.

"There has to be a clear cut selection system where one knows who is going to qualify and who will he partner with," Bopanna took a dig at AITA a day before his match.

Paes was more engrossed in his past glories and was kept blaming media to plug stories against "soft target". Knowing well how Indian tennis has functioned to help Paes' in last several years, it would be hard to believe this theory.

For the moment, Paes' looked to have played last of his Olympic match and Japan in 2020 may well just be an improbable dream for him. "It's hard to look four years ahead. But why not? I would love to do it, if fitness permits!"