Bopanna seeks clarity on Olympics entry possibility

There will be 31 teams entering the men’s doubles draw for the Tokyo Olympics tennis event, apart from the one reserved for host Japan.

File picture of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan.   -  R. Ragu

There will be 31 teams entering the men’s doubles draw for the Tokyo Olympics tennis event, apart from the one reserved for host Japan.

Can Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan, ranked 40 and 73 at the moment, get into the Games?

The cut off ranking will be on June 14, after Roland Garros.

While Asian Games singles gold medallist Denis Istomin, ranked 337, is assured of a singles entry, there is no such provision for the doubles champions Bopanna and Divij.

“Nobody knows about the entry status. There are people already saying that Divij & I can’t get an entry. If they are able to tell me how, I would rather go home and spend time with my family.

“I missed my daughter’s second birthday recently. My physio Gaurang Shukla has not been able to join me for five weeks, as it is hard to get visa. Every country has different rules and regulations,” Bopanna said from Paris.

READ: Sports Ministry approaches UK government to discuss visa for Sania Mirza's son

The top 10 players, both in singles and doubles, have the option to nominate a partner and get entry to the doubles draw of the Games.

“The thing is nobody knows who all are willing to go to Tokyo for the Olympics. Asia has not hosted any tennis tournament since 2019, except Singapore. Many don’t want to go. Also, even if one is ranked No. 11 or 12, one can’t get in without a good ranked partner.

“A country like France, may send four singles players rather than two doubles teams. There are many factors involved,” said the 41-year-old Bopanna, who had missed the mixed doubles medal with Sania Mirza very narrowly in the last Games in Rio in 2016.

"At the moment, I don’t know when I can get back to my family. If we get into the Olympics, me and Divij will be playing some grass court events together. People tell us not to come to India, and reach Tokyo direct from the Tour, owing to the serious covid-19 situation. It is not easy to be away from family, with so much uncertainty all around,’’ Bopanna said.

If Bopanna and Divij  make the cut, the next question would be whether Bopanna and Sania Mirza too will make it to the mixed doubles draw of 16. Sania has an injury protected rank of No.9 and is all set to make the women’s doubles draw with a partner of her choice, who has to be ranked
top-300 in singles or doubles.

It has been a tough season for Bopanna. "We had three match points in Geneva. Into the match tie-break, it is anybody’s match, no matter whether you are No.1 in the world or No.1000," said Bopanna, even as he recalled winning four super tie-breaks on way to the title in Monte Carlo with Pablo Cuevas.

The suspense of Olympic entry for Bopanna and Divij will linger till June 16, when the ITF will inform the National Olympic committees and national federations about eligible players. National federations will have time till June 22 to submit their nominations for men’s and women’s doubles.

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