Melbourne: Mahesh Bhupathi returned to Grand Slam action with a first-round win at the Australian Open but Leander Paes' bid fell flat at the first hurdle, here today.
Bhupathi, who is playing with Luxembourg's Gilles Muller, beat the Australian team of Alex Bolt and Andrew Whittington 7-6 (4) 3-6 6-4 in his tournament-opener at court seven.
In the two hour and 13 minute contest, Bhupathi and Muller managed to save 12 breakpoints out of 15 they faced. It was Bhupathi's third competitive event since bowing out of 2015 Wimbledon championships. He had missed the entire second half of the last year as he was busy with the conduct of his ambitious International Premier Tennis League (IPTL).
He had played at the Chennai Open and then at a Challenger tournament in Thailand, where he reached the semifinals with compatriot Purav Raja.
The 42-year-old Paes made an exit with French partner Jeremy Charady after losing his first round 3-6 4-6 to Colombian 12th seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.
Their challenge was over in 72 minutes as they squandered five of the six break chances.