Rohan Bopanna chose Sriram Balaji as his partner for Paris Olympics

New Delhi. World number four Rohan Bopanna has chosen N Sriram Balaji, who impressed with his performance in the French Open, as his partner for the Paris Olympics and the All India Tennis Association (AITA) is unlikely to object to the choice of this experienced player. Bopanna informed AITA about his decision by writing an email. This email has also been sent to the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). AITA has also confirmed this. Balaji and his Mexican partner MA Reyes-Varela Martinez suffered defeat in the third round of the men’s doubles of the French Open on Monday despite giving a tough fight to Bopanna and Australia’s Matthew Ebden.

Balaji impressed with his baseline and net play besides serving well, which forced Bopanna to decide that the Coimbatore player will be his partner when he returns to Roland Garros next month for his final bid to win an Olympic medal. Bopanna came close to winning an Olympic medal during the Rio Games but his and Sania Mirza’s pair lost the mixed doubles bronze medal match to the Czech Republic pair of Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka. “I have sent an email to AITA,” Bopanna told PTI from Paris. Bopanna said he would comment on his choice only after getting a response from the national federation. India’s second-ranked doubles player Yuki Bhambri, ranked 52 in the world, was also in contention.

Yuki had exited in the first round of the French Open with French partner Albano Olivetti but has had success on clay courts this season. He won an ATP 250 tournament in Munich and finished runner-up in another ATP 250 event in Lyon with the same partner. When contacted, AITA secretary general Anil Dhupar said he had no objection to Bopanna playing with 84th ranked Balaji at the Paris Olympics. “Rohan has written to us that he wants to play with Balaji. Balaji is a good player. He has played well in Pakistan as well and has taken advantage of the opportunities. He has also performed well on clay courts in the ongoing French Open. Balaji is a good server. If Rohan wants to play with him, we have no objection to it,” Dhupar said.

He said, “Let the ITF publish the final list after the French Open concludes. Let’s see if Sumit Nagal also makes it or not. We will hold a selection committee meeting and convey Bopanna’s decision to the panel which will take the final decision.” The selection committee is headed by former Davis Cup player Nandan Bal who also indicated that he would support Bopanna. Bal told PTI from Mumbai, “In my personal opinion, we should give Rohan what he wants. After all, this is his last chance to win an Olympic medal and if he feels it is better to play with Balaji then he should definitely choose this option.” He said, “Still, whenever AITA calls a meeting, we will discuss the combination.”

Former Davis Cup players Balram Singh, Mustafa Ghouse and Sai Jayalakshmi are the other members of the selection panel. Bal said the AITA secretary general gives his suggestions to the panel but does not interfere in the selection and the decision is taken independently by the panel. The ATP/WTA rankings of June 10 will be considered for entries. The ITF has to inform all associations about their eligible players by June 12. All national sports federations have to confirm their entries to the ITF by June 19. The ITF will reallocate the unused quota places on July 8.

Disclaimer: CricketInFocus has not edited this news. This news has been published from PTI-language feed.

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