Indian court suspends ban on Bhupathi, Bopanna

An Indian court has suspended a two-year ban on doubles specialists Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna from representing the country, a report said Saturday.

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) said last week the pair would not be considered for selection to play for India until June 30, 2014 after Bhupathi and Bopanna each refused to partner Leander Paes at this year's Olympics.

But judge Mohan Shantanagoudar at Karnataka High Court, southwest India, challenged the AITA's decision and suspended the ban, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The ruling came after Aditya Sondhi, lawyer for the players, argued that the decision of the AITA was "arbitrary as it was taken without hearing them", the news agency said, without giving further details.

Bhupathi on Tuesday accused the "dictatorial" AITA of waging a "vendetta" against him and said he was considering legal action.

Bhupathi, 38, and Bopanna, 32, had cited undisclosed personal and professional reasons for not wanting to link up with Paes at the London games.

They said in June that they had requested the AITA consider them for selection only as a team and not as individuals to be "paired with any other players".

Paes and Bhupathi formed a longstanding and highly successful partnership, winning Grand Slam doubles titles at the French Open in 1999 and 2001, and Wimbledon in 1999, but the relationship soured.

The selectors last month dropped Bhupathi and Bopanna for the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group I tie against New Zealand in Chandigarh and named a new-look team, which won 5-0.

The controversy over the Olympics team selection started after the AITA had initially named Bhupathi and Paes for the doubles, even though Bhupathi wanted to play with Bopanna.

The AITA were later forced to pick two doubles teams for the Olympics, with Paes pairing with lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan, and Bhupathi partnering Bopanna.

Both pairs were knocked out in the early rounds at the Olympics.

Bhupathi and Paes, who represented India in the doubles at four Olympics, broke up as a full-time pair in 2002, but continued to team up for India in the Davis Cup and other multi-sports tournaments such as the Olympics.

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