Confirming that the Indian Express will not be playing as a team in the coming season, Mahesh Bhupathi told CNN-IBN that it was Leander Paes’ decision to part ways.
“Leander felt that we were possibly a little too old on the circuit. We were not able to gel and needed younger legs on either side,” Bhupathi told CNN-IBN.
The Bangalorean added that this was not a sudden decision and that the duo had had a chat regarding their partnership after they came back from Shanghai. When asked if it was their usual fall-out, Bhupathi denied it. “There is no fall out. He (Paes) has an opinion and I had to respect that as professional.”
On which team would get to represent India in the Olympics, Bhupathi said, “Things are bit up in the air right now and we’ll have to see how the results (of their split) pan out.” He reiterated, that “whichever team is best for Indian tennis, will do well.”
On his preparation for the Olympics, Bhupathi said, “Winning an Olympic medal is the hardest thing in life and that ad-hoc preparation in the past did not help our cause.”
Bhupathi wasn’t too keen to elaborate on the reasons for the split. He only said, “It’s hard for me to explain, not my decision. Leander had a difference of opinion and I have to respect that. We’re both professionals and we were committed to be together for the season (2011) and to tennis. It’s been a fun year.”
Earlier this month, Paes and Bhupathi had announced that they would be splitting at the end of this season and would not compete together in the Chennai Open early next year.
Media reports said Paes was to partner Czech Radek Stepanek while Bhupathi would be playing with Rohan Bopanna.
Meanwhile, Bopanna’s former partner Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, with whom he won three titles this season and made the finals at the 2010 US Open, said he was shocked by the Indian’s decision to call it quits.
Qureshi was quoted by India Today saying, “I didn’t have any say in the decision. I was just told to find a partner. It definitely came as a shock to me.”
In an interview to The Indian Express Bopanna had stated that, “Who I want to play with is my decision. I don’t think I owe anyone a justification of why I am deciding to partner someone or give explanations behind the thought for this partnership.”
“Yes, I did have a successful year with Aisam but now I am starting a new year with Mahesh, and it’s as simple as that,” he had added.
Bopanna had also refused to get into the details of who would get to represent India at the London Olympics next year. “As of now we have decided to start the year together. The Olympics have a lot of other technicalities (form, rankings) and we will see how it goes.”
Watch video of Bhupathi interview