| Mahesh Bhupathi gets a massage at South Club in the lead-up to Indiaís Davis Cup tie versus New Zealand . Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta: Good times come in cycles. Ask Mahesh Bhupathi.
Fortunes have turned full circle for the doubles star from the time he parted ways with Leander Paes in March 2002, citing poor form.
The second half of last season, when he soared to great heights with Max Mirnyi culminating with the US Open triumph, seems ancient times now. The recent slump in form ó heís won nine matches and lost nine since January ó hasnít however rattled him, as The Telegraph found out during a freewheeling chat Friday.
Following are excerpts
Q How concerned were you at the loss of form'
A I didnít have a great number of points to defend at the start of the year because we hadnít won many matches 12 months ago. So that way I havenít suffered much. The only disappointment was missing out on the push for No. 1 from my year-end ranking of No. 3. Now I am at 5 and have to rework afresh towards that goal.
Why he chose singles specialist Tim Henman as a stopgap partner after breaking up with Eagle'
Max (Mirnyi) and I agreed to start from the Estoril event. That left me without a partner for two weeks (Indian Wells and Miami). Tim was also looking for one, so we decided to join forces. We had tough draws both weeks, losing to very good teams (Leander Paes-David Rikl and Mirnyi-Roger Federer).
Did he think of joining forces with Paes while looking for a new partner
He was doing so well with David. There was no question of breaking up a successful team.
His assessment of the Paes-Rikl combination
Like all good teams, they compliment each other well as their results are showing. Leander needed someone who returns well. He is a right-hander, while David is a leftie which also helps.
Whether he is looking forward to a clash against Paes-Rikl in partnership with Mirnyi
I am only looking forward to winning matches and winning tournaments. If we have to beat them on the way, weíll try and do it. But make no mistake: thereís no competition between Leander and me. Both of us are playing the Tour to make money. I am trying to maximise my earnings and so is he.
Whether he sees Paes-Bhupathi playing together on the circuit again
We may, but I canít tell you when.
Whether the ATP experiment of encouraging more singles players to play doubles has worked
Their complaint was that not enough people were watching the doubles matches. Well, in that context, itís definitely been a good move. The fans are queuing up to watch the Hewitts and Federers play doubles. In one of the matches Tim and I played in Indian Wells, the stands were quite full.
How difficult is it to adjust with singles players in doubles'
Not much, because they are basically very good players. Tim, for example, has played doubles off and on in the past and even won a Super Nine title (with Olivier Delaitre). The negative aspect is that you donít get to practise with them too much before matches as they are busy with their singles. That can sometimes hurt you.
Whether his outlook towards tennis has changed after marriage
(Laughs) I have got to go out and earn for two people now. See, tennis has always been my life. Now there are a few more priorities. Itís good coming back after a tough and disappointing day to a person you want to be with. But she (Shweta) wonít be able to travel too much with me now as she is starting her MBA course in Hyderabad. That wonít be easy but youíve got to accept it.
What exactly are his plans with Globosport'
We run tournaments like the WTA meet in Hyderabad and there are a couple of Challengers coming up in conjunction with AITA. We have also signed up young and talented sportsmen like Karun Chandhok (motorsport) and Avishkar Salvi (cricket). Weíll do their PR, promote them and sell them so that they can concentrate on their respective careers.
Whether he is looking at other cricketers
There are three of them but I canít disclose the names as nothingís been finalised yet.
Is Globosport his future'
Running the management company is something I would like to do full-time after quitting.
How long does he wish to continue'
Two or three more years maybe, if health permits. I wouldnít like to continue if my ranking falls too much. Like I know I wonít enjoy if I move out of the top-25.