The national tennis federation on Monday condemned the "inappropriate and baseless" comments by Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna, who accused the AITA of misleading "everyone" by wrongly claiming that it had paired him with Sumit Nagal for the Tokyo Olympics.
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) had paired Bopanna and Divij Sharan for the men's doubles event but the team failed to make the cut because of its low combined rank of 113.
However, after Nagal made the cut for the men's singles on July 16 following large-scale withdrawals, AITA saw hope in getting a men's doubles team's entry since singles players were being given the priority to fill the doubles draws.
The AITA announced that it has changed the combination by pairing Bopanna with Nagal.
Bopanna, 41, on Monday countered AITA's claim.
"ITF has never accepted an entry for Sumit Nagal & myself. ITF was clear that no changes were allowed after the nomination deadline (22nd June) unless Injury/Illness. AITA has mislead the players, government, media and everyone else by stating we still have a chance," Bopanna tweeted.
ITF has never accepted an entry for Sumit Nagal & myself.— Rohan Bopanna (@rohanbopanna) July 19, 2021
ITF was clear that no changes were allowed after the nomination deadline (22nd June) unless Injury/Illness.
AITA has mislead the players,government, media and everyone else by stating we still have a chance. @AnurajR1
AITA secretary general Anil Dhupar said they did reach out to the ITF for changing the nomination.
"We wrote to the ITF that we want to change the nomination and now want to pair Bopanna with Nagal, so please advise us how to go forward. While they said changing the nomination was possible only in case of injury and illness and also under special circumstances, they said they would keep us posted even as only seven hours are left for deadline to expire," Dhupar told PTI.
"So, where is the question of misleading anyone. How are we supposed to gain by it? The fact is that Bopanna's ranking was not good enough for qualification. We only tried to help him so that he could compete in the Games. Why he did not qualify on his own?"
Reacting to Bopanna's tweet, Sania Mirza wrote, "Whaaattt??? If this is true then it's absolutely ridiculous and shameful..by this it also means that we have sacrificed a very good shot at a medal in the mixed doubles if you and I would have played as planned. We were both told that you and Sumit's names have been given."
Whaaattt???If this is true then it's absolutely ridiculous and shameful..by this it also means that we have sacrificed a very good shot at a medal in the mixed doubles if you and I would have played as planned. We were both told that you and sumit's names hav been given .. https://t.co/h3fGkK0im8— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) July 19, 2021
However, the question of missing out on a shot at medal in the mixed doubles does not arise since Bopanna could not qualify for the men's doubles.
Only those players can play the mixed event who are already part of the singles or doubles draw.
The AITA explained how it tried hard to get a men's doubles team in the draw, and thus lashed at both the players.
"Twitter comments by Rohan Bopanna and then Sania Mirza are inappropriate, misleading and it appears, without knowledge of the rules," AITA said in a statement.
".....Rohan Bopanna could not have qualified as per ITF Rules. Therefore Sania Mirza's tweet is also baseless and coming from a player of her stature, is condemnable.
"....We asked ITF whether the entry of Sumit Nagal will suffice to pair with Rohan Bopanna for an entry into Men's Doubles. ITF informed us that this cannot be done at this stage because of various reasons and rules. Even if it is done, the pair would still not qualify.
"Rohan with Sumit would be a third alternate pair (according to ITF)."
AITA said Bopanna's comment are "due to lack of knowledge and without understanding the facts, rules of ITF and is unwarranted and totally misleading."
"Even the comments of Sania Mirza are most inappropriate. Ranking of Rohan with Divij or Sumit Nagal were not good enough for qualification. So how did we we lose an opportunity to win medals either in men's doubles or mixed doubles," the statement read.
The tennis competition opens on July 24.