"Nobody knows what is the cut for Tokyo Olympics" - Rohan Bopanna frustrated over Tokyo chance
With withdrawals as the lone hope, 2-time Olympian Rohan Bopanna and partner Divij Sharan are still in the dark about their Tokyo Olympics qualification.
The fogginess in the Indian tennis camp is currently peaking with barely 12 days left before the Tokyo Olympics begin in full-swing in the Japanese capital. While 6-time Grand Slam champion Sania Mirza has secured a berth along with India No.1 singles and doubles player Ankita Raina for the Women's Doubles event at the Olympics, there is much confusion regarding the men's qualification. Veteran tennis player and doubles specialist, Rohan Bopanna and his partner Divij Sharan are still basking in a discomforting dilemma as to whether they are headed to Tokyo or not.
Rohan Bopanna, who is at World No. 38 and Divij Sharan, at World No. 75 have a combined ranking of No. 113 and therefore, still haven't made the cut for Tokyo. The only hope remaining for this 2018 Asian Games gold medallist pair is that there will be plenty of withdrawals coming up soon after the Wimbledon Championships conclude on July 11, 2021.
Playing at the grass court Grand Slam, Rohan Bopanna participated in both the Men's Doubles as well as the Mixed Doubles. Crashing out in the opening round with Divij Sharan, the duo of Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza made it till the third round of the Wimbledon Championships. With mere days remaining before the Olympics begin, Rohan Bopanna voiced his frustration on the situation from London.
"I've been asking what the cut is for the last five days, nobody really knows," Bopanna said at Wimbledon in a press conference. "I don't know why the ITF is not releasing the official cut. Some say we are two out, some say four out. Technically we're in the cut. The combined ranking of the last team is 204. But this time the ITF has made singles a priority ahead of the doubles ranking. So guys like (Matwe) Middelkoop and (Robin) Haase, who have a combined ranking of 76, are not in. ATP doesn't know, ITF doesn't know and it is impossible for us to plan then," the 2-time Olympian said.
Furthermore, Rohan Bopanna expressed that he feels that this time around the singles ranking is being given more importance than the doubles because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Singles ranking is given priority because of COVID protocols, you only want a set number of athletes there," Bopanna said. "It's like saying if you're going for a long jump let the same guy do the high jump… It's two different disciplines at the end of the day. Players have worked years to get their rankings high enough to represent their country at the highest stage. It is definitely frustrating," said the veteran tennis player.
If Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan fail to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, it would directly translate to the fact that this will be the first time since 1992 Barcelona Olympics that India won't be represented in the men's doubles. In 1992, it was Leander Paes who teamed up with Ramesh Krishnan to reach the quarterfinals. If there is no men's doubles pair qualifying, Sania Mirza also won't be able to take part in the Mixed doubles event.
A victim of unfortunate circumstances, according to former Olympian Vishnu Vardhan, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan are running against time and hoping for a miracle to get a place in Tokyo.
An almost Olympic medallist - Rohan Bopanna-Sania Mirza at 2016 Rio
Sania Mirza, who partnered Rohan Bopanna in the Mixed doubles event in Wimbledon and whipped up some classic magic is also restless about the fogginess regarding qualification. In 2016, the Mirza-Bopanna duo was just a whisker away from winning a medal at the Rio Olympics.
Making it till the semi-finals, Mirza-Bopanna was well en-route to add a second Olympic medal for India in tennis and the very first one in doubles, before their hopes were dashed when the all-American pair of Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram handed them a defeat after playing a thriller, 6-2, 2-6, 3-10.
"It's something Rohan and I came close to winning the last time. It's frustrating not knowing how far out you are," the 34-year-old Sania Mirza said during Wimbledon.
Returning to the courts after a long hiatus, Sania Mirza reunited with Rohan Bopanna and together they played a few sets of solid tennis before losing in the third-round to Andreja Klepac and Jean-Julien Rojer, 3-6, 6-3, 9-11.
"We're (Rohan and her) playing together after so long but we obviously have the level. We're playing against the top teams and we're right there. I would like to know what the chances are because mixed (doubles) is something that we have a medal-winning shot at," mentioned Mirza who played her first Wimbledon after becoming a mother.
Correction: Earlier, it was not mentioned in the article that quotes in the story were given by Rohan Bopanna in a press conference. The story was later published by Firstpost.