Bhupathi and Bopanna Target to Olympic Medal: It’s choice – not chance – that determines one’s destiny, they say. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi reunited after nine years in their bid to clinch an Olympic medal at next year’s London Games only to split up within months.
New Combine Bhupathi and Bopanna Target to Olympic Medal. Is it destiny or choice that India’s most successful doubles players had to separate after a successful comeback stint – that saw them reach the semis of the World Tour Finals besides three victories (Chennai Open, Miami and Cincinnati Masters) – is a question worth asking.
Bhupathi will pair up with ‘fresh legs’ Rohan Bopanna for the first time after the Davis Cup and the duo toiled for two-and-half hours at the Bombay Gymkhana to kick off their journey to the Olympics, which is 216 days away. Their first assignment is the Chennai Open beginning January 2, where they start off as top seeds.
Interestingly, the combo’s biggest threat comes from none other than compatriot Paes and his Serbian teammate Janko Tipsarevic, who are seeded second. Paes will play Tour events with Radek Stepanek thereafter.
However, all that’s on the minds of the pair is pocketing a medal at the All England Club next summer. The qualification process requires, one doubles player in the team to be individually ranked in the top 10 of the ATP doubles chart. Bhupathi, currently ranked 7th and Bopanna, ranked 11th, make the grade if the team is picked as of today.
“Rohan and I are playing together with the sole aim of representing India at the Olympics, but that’s still a long way away, we have to win a lot of matches, work together as a team and build a great partnership and if we do that hopefully we’ll be in London and do well there too,” Bhupathi told TOI on Saturday.
“We have had some very good results in the Davis Cup, we know how to play the game, use each other’s strengths, polish off the weaknesses and adapt to situations. Hopefully we will pull it off well,” the 37-year-old added.
However, when asked about the difference between Paes and Bopanna, Bhupathi’s answer lacked the typical punch that his returns possess.
“I have played with a lot of partners in the last 17 years, but as far as Rohan is concerned, he has got a huge game, we practise every year, have known each other for long and most importantly I know my role in the team – my role is to feed him opportunities,” he said.
Asked about his on-court rivalry with Paes, Bhupathi said, “I’ve played Leander 20 times, so it’s just another match for us, we will play to beat them.”
Bopanna, who played with Pakistan’s Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi the last two seasons, was excited about the challenges coming his way in the new season. “We will be playing 12 tournaments apart from three Grand Slams before the Olympics and the only event at home we are playing is in Chennai, we’ve got great support in the past years and starting the year there will be quite interesting,” the 31-year-old said.
Speaking about ending his successful partnership with Aisam that saw him register three wins (Halle Open, Stockholm Open, Paris Masters), a fit Bopanna said, “This is a new pair, so our aim is to do well together. We’ve got a lot of matches in the coming season and am hopeful of a good show.”
Meanwhile, soon-to-be father Bhupathi, who wed Bollywood actor Lara Dutta, saved his excitement for late, terming the upcoming year ‘very busy’.