Indian tennis’ build-up to the 2012 Olympics (July 27 — August 12) was marred by bickering over who paired whom in the doubles event. With Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna refusing to partner the top ranked Indian Leander Paes, who as a result will partner rookie Vishnu Vardhan, one cannot help but feel that the morale in the camp will not be at it’s optimum — especially given the unhappy history between India’s most successful doubles pair Lee-Hesh.
Mahesh Bhupathi. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Bhupathi though, felt otherwise: “We are professionals. We are not going to play the Maharashtra Open. We are going to the Olympics. We all want to win and we’ll do whatever we can to win,” Bhupathi told MiD DAY on the sidelines of a promotional event by Omega, the official timekeepers for the London Olympics.
Another controversy doing the rounds is All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) decision to appoint Sania Mirza’s mother Nasima as manager of the women’s tennis team. Bhupathi backed AITA’s call: “As far as we are concerned, there is no debate. Sania’s mum and dad know her tennis the best. They’ve been part of her tennis life since she was a kid. When you want to send a manager with the women’s team it’s always been one of them. She is the No 1 player and it’s up to her to deliver when it comes to women’s tennis. So, she needs to be comfortable.”
Bhupathi (38) believed the country’s medal hopes are boosted by the size of the contingent heading to London (84 athletes participating in 13 disciplines). “We’re going not only with the biggest tennis team ever (seven), but with teams in multiple disciplines — our biggest contingent. It’s our best chance yet.”