LeanderPaes and Mahesh Bhupathi are the most dynamic Indian tennis duo till date. The duo, called the ‘Indian Express’ played doubles together in two stints- 1994 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011 and won three grand slams together.
They were also the World No.1 during their partnership and in 1999, reached the final of all four majors- winning the French Open and Wimbledon. But their successful on court pairing had a lot of heat off the court. Paes and Bhupathi didn’t get along well but despite their differences, continued playing doubles.
Now, the duo have reunited once again for a series- “Break Point” which showcases their perspective on the fallout of the iconic Paes-Bhupathi pairing. The trailer for the same has been released and during its virtual premier, Paes spoke to the reporters about Bhupathi.
“With Mahesh, it was always difficult to get a word out of him because he is not the most vociferous communicator. But if I could see that archival footage then, in 1999, or in 2000 when the break was happening, maybe things could have been different,” Paes said.
He said that in hindsight, better communication could’ve made things better between himself and Mahesh. “Maybe if our communication could have been better then, and I will take responsibility for my communication too, if we had a ‘Break Point’ straight after winning the Wimbledon and the French Open in 1999, we could have played for a few more years.”
Paes further added that despite their indifferences off the court, they put their emotions aside and player their heart out on the court.
He added: “Through the highs and lows of Mahesh and my career both on and off the court, there were a lot of things that we had not addressed. There are conversations that we are now a little wiser for so hence we can address them and find closure to them. There are a few conversations we are more mature about so we can laugh at ourselves.”
“Through all our differences, recognising that we are different personalities, we have different emotions, we do our business differently, but yet at the same time the unconditional brotherhood that we have. That translated every time we played for the country.”
Shockingly, Paes revealed that most of the times they stood on the podium, their relationship was at its worst but still they managed to play together.
“It is very unique that most of the times that we stood on podiums with trophies in our hands, our relationship was at its worst. Yet being able to drive forward through that… The brotherhood that we have, he knows that anytime he needs me, I will be around and I know the same for him,” he said.
‘The main takeaway from the career was how to fight and succeed through adversities’: Bhupathi
As for Bhupathi, he said that the main takeaway from his and Paes’ career is how to succeed despite being down.
“The main takeaway from the career was how to fight and succeed through adversities. Most of our success, especially in the tail end of our career came through all the adversities that we faced through the breakup,” Bhupathi said.
He further added that the amount of pressure they handled on court before the Doha Asian Games was unreal.
He said: “When we won a gold in Doha at the Asian Games, the amount of baggage that we were carrying on to the court before the tournament started was something that two normal Tennis players would not have gone past the first round (with), forget about winning the gold medal. We had the ability to solve problems once we were put in a professional situation and get the job done.
Lakshya Chopra is an aspiring sports writer who has covered various sports in the last few years. An engineer by profession, his passion for sports has driven him closer to the media industry with each passing day. He has been working at FirstSportz for over two years and initially headed the tennis team for two full seasons. Having written almost 2500 articles for the organization, he is currently the content manager of the NFL section. From Rafael Nadal's prime to Novak Djokovic's rise to Tom Brady's magical comebacks, he has seen it all.
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