Feuding former No. 1 pair refuse to reunite for Olympics

Updated: May 22, 2008, 2:32 AM ET
Reuters

MUMBAI, India -- Indian doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi has refused to team up with his estranged partner Leander Paes at the Beijing Olympics in August.

The feuding players do not play together on the men's ATP Tour, and Bhupathi, angered that Paes has no plans to play with him before Beijing, wants to be allowed to play with Davis Cup teammate Rohan Bopanna.

"I'm not willing to go into the Olympics under-prepared and I have made this clear to the AITA (All India Tennis Association)," Bhupathi told The Indian Express newspaper on Thursday.

"It's just too late to play with Leander. He has made his plans clear for the leadup to the Olympics, that he will play with his new partner Lukas Dlouhy so that he can get enough points to make it into the Shanghai Masters.

"That means he doesn't want to prepare with me for the Olympics. We have been assigned for just a week's training in Mumbai, that too in the middle of the monsoons.

"If the AITA doesn't want to take things seriously, then they can do whatever they like."

Local media had reported on Wednesday that Bhupathi had written to the AITA seeking permission to partner Bopanna in Beijing.

"If they don't want to respect my opinion, what can I say, it's their decision. They can field whichever team they want, or none at all," Bhupathi said.

AITA secretary Anil Khanna rejected Bhupathi's request, adding that he was confident the player would come around.

"The idea is to win a medal... and not send teams to make up the numbers. We'd rather send no team at all," Khanna said.

Bhupathi and Paes, the former world No. 1 pair, won three Grand Slam doubles titles together between 1999 and 2001 but have had a turbulent relationship for several years.

The pair do not play together on the men's ATP Tour and won the 2006 Asian Games title despite an ugly spat during the event. They narrowly lost the bronze medal playoff in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Paes won a singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Medal-starved India won just one medal at each of the last three Olympics. Their men's hockey team, which won the country's last gold medal in Moscow in 1980, failed to qualify for Beijing.