Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Mahesh Bhupathi, right, and Leander Paes made a formidable double team at one time, winning two French Open titles and another at Wimbledon before their falling out.
Mahesh Bhupathi, right, and Leander Paes made a formidable double team at one time, winning two French Open titles and another at Wimbledon before their falling out.

India court drama playing out like a Bollywood movie

The latest chapter in the Leander Paes-Mahesh Bhupathi row has the latter, and his doubles partner, Rohan Bopanna, being punished with exclusion from the India Davis cup team through June 2014. Stay tuned, says Ahmed Rizvi

Three months ago, Mahesh Bhupathi was the talk of the Indian media after his refusal to partner Leander Paes at the London Olympics, calling him a "back stabber".

"The ship that I and Leander boarded has sailed a long time ago," Bhupathi said in June. "We have split four times, gone to the Olympics four times and returned empty-handed. For us going back to the Olympics [together] is in the worst possible in the interest of the country."

Instead, Bhupathi wanted to go to London with Rohan Bopanna, 32. The two had been playing together on the professional tour for a few months before the Games, winning the men's double title in Dubai. They had come together for the sole purpose of preparing for the Olympics.

Bhupathi eventually got his way and Paes partnered Vishnu Vardhan in London.

Both pairs made an early exit.

But the rebellion, as expected, did not go down well with the mandarins at the All India Tennis Association, and on Sunday, Bhupathi and Bopanna were suspended from playing for the country until the end of June 2014.

This could mean the end of Bhupathi's national team career. He deserves a better farewell, but this is what he has chosen for himself.

The present state of the relationship between Paes and Bhupathi is a far cry from the days they started playing doubles together in the mid-1990s. Like a typical Bollywood movie, they were the best of friends at the start before turning into sworn enemies.

The chemistry between Paes and Bhuptahi brought plenty of success, with the pair reaching the finals of all four grand slams in 1999, winning the French Open and Wimbledon. They were the top-ranked doubles team in the world at the time and added another French Open crown in 2001.

Hailing them as the "Indian Express", the country celebrated the two heroes, unaware of the tensions brewing between them. According to the whispers, an Indian model was the cause. One was dating her and the other, according to people in the know, had his eyes on her. The situation had its inevitable consequences and the strain between the two engulfed others in the tennis community.

The father of Paes claimed Enrico Piperno, Bhupathi's coach at the time, was the reason they could not play together.

Since then, there have been twists and turns in the tale. Every attempt to return as a team has been marred by one-upmanship, churlishness and opportunism.

It is almost certain they will never play together again, but is this the end of this drama? Certainly not, as Bhupathi warned in a tweet.

"The cranky old grandfathers on the executive committee, who have never played tennis waiting for a reaction?," he tweeted. "There is one coming. Stay tuned!"


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 UAE’s Charlie Sargent tries to avoid a tackle by Singapore team members during the one-off Division 1 Test at The Sevens. The Singapore-born winger was making his debut. Sarah Dea / The National

Asian Five Nations: UAE go into rebuilding mode in Division 2

With a new look squad, including five emerging Emirati players, the UAE will hope to restructure and get into the winning habit in more forgiving climes when they drop a level in the revamped competition next season.

 Chelsea players argue with Atletico Madrid during their scoreless draw in the Champions League semi-final first leg match at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday. Gerard Julien / AFP / April 22, 2014

In pictures: Chelsea lock horns with Atletico in scoreless Champions League draw

Chelsea held Atletico Madrid scoreless at home on Tuesday as the two will head to Stamford Bridge for a winner-take-all second leg.

 Chris Gayle has been the most feared batsman in the Royal Challengers Bangalore line-up since he joined the team in 2011. Indranil Mukherjee / AFP

Parthiv continues to fill Gayle’s big shoes for Bangalore

Indian wicketkeeper-batsman will continue to open the innings for Royal Challengers with the West Indian still nursing his bad back, writes Paul Radley.

 Ian Poulter is fifth on the points list to make the cut in a 12-man European side for the Ryder Cup. Paul Lakatos / AFP

Ian Poulter sees momentum in Europe’s squad-building, with Ryder

Lot of players are striking well to stay in contention for the 12 spots in the team, but there is still lot of time before September, he warns.

 Erykan Bityutsky pulls a 4x4 car during the final day of the UAE Strongman Competition in Dubai. Delores Johnson / The National

UAE Strongman Competition takes weight training to a whole new scale

Two-day competition in Dubai attracts men and women from across the Emirates and proves it takes more than just bulky muscles to win, writes Ali Khaled.

 Benfica's Oscar Cardozo, from Paraguay, lifts the trophy celebrating after beating Olhanense on Sunday at Estadio da Luz. Benfica's 2-0 clinched them the Portuguese Primeira Liga championship. They will play Juventus in the the first leg of their Europa League semi-final tie on Thursday April 24. Francisco Seco / AP / April 20, 2014

Ambitious Benfica ready for Juventus while Sevilla and Valencia set to battle in Europa last-four

Benfica, fresh off clinching their 33rd Portuguese title, are looking to keep Juventus from reaching the Europa League final - which will be played in Turin - while the other semi-final sees La Liga rivals Sevilla and Valencia clash.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National