Leander, Mahesh on course for Beijing

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By Staff Reporter in Delhi
  • Published 19.12.07

Calcutta/New Delhi: The doubts are clearing. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi seem to be on course for another Olympic appearance, in Beijing next year.

The senior pro said that he and his one-time Tour partner should be representing India at the 2008 Olympics.

“If everything goes well, we should be playing doubles in Beijing,” Paes told The Telegraph in Calcutta on Tuesday.

“The Olympics are eight months away, we’ll think of it later,” the Davis Cup captain said when asked if any planning had started.

Bhupathi was more straightforward.

“We are looking forward to playing together in Beijing. It’s a very logical choice because we are one of the medal contenders for the country,” Bhupathi told a television channel.

On preparations for Beijing, Bhupathi sang a tune different from the man he won three Grand Slam titles with. “We’ve just eight months left and would soon start practice,” said the Bangalorean.

Bhupathi said pairing up with Paes would brighten India’s chances and hence the duo had to bury their differences.

The two have had a strained relationship since Bhupathi decided to part ways with Paes in the middle of a season at a tournament in the US. They did play together off and on — mostly for India in Davis Cup, Olympics and Asian Games and at times on the Tour — but have never shared the court on a permanent basis thereafter.

Things came to a pass at the Doha Asian Games last year when they had an acrimonious exchange in public.

Bhupathi had vowed then that he wouldn’t play with Paes again because the latter had questioned his commitment.

Even after that scrap, Paes and Bhupathi went on to win the Asian Games gold. At the Athens Olympics in 2004, the Indian duo came within a whisker of claiming the bronze. But Croats Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic crushed their dreams. Both Paes and Bhupathi have been yearning for another shot at Olympic glory since then.