Busan, Oct. 11: The Asian Games showed, yet again, what Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi can do from the same side of a tennis court.
A comprehensive two-set wipe-out of local boys Lee Hyung-taik and Chung Hee-seok at the flawless Geumjeong Tennis Stadium centre court Friday afternoon, and gold was theirs.
A new addition to their collection of three Grand Slams and 20 other ATP titles, this was the first time the two had won a medal for the country together. Paes had missed the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, while in the Olympics in 1996 (Atlanta) and 2000 (Sydney), they failed to make much headway.
So when are you playing together again' “I am ready any time, ask this question to Mahesh,” was Paes’ stern reply. He obviously hasn’t forgotten Bhupathi’s rude rebuff in March this year. Having committed for the whole of 2002 with Paes, Bhupathi suddenly decided that the two should split to revive their respective careers. With Bhupathi not sure of his Max Mirnyi partnership for next year and Paes yet to find a stable partner, there is this theoretical possibility of another reunion of the Indian Express. The problem is, who will break the ice'
Both have gone on record as saying they are not interested in getting back with each other. And there was very little effort made from either side this week to suggest that their animosity has come down.
Back to their gold-winning effort, Paes said the key was to settle down quickly and grab the initiative. “That was what we managed to do with the early service break and the momentum remained with us right through.”
The fact that they hadn’t played a match together for nearly five months didn’t make it easy. “But except for the semi-final, we played well and didn’t face much problem,” Paes said.
n WI-India Test report on Pg 14