Catching Up With... Bhupathi & Paes
by Matt Fitzgerald|
Mahesh Bhupathi are Leander Paes are back together as a regular partnership for the first time since 2002, and to no one’s surprise, are one of the top doubles teams in 2011 on the ATP World Tour doubles circuit. Coming in to Miami, they boast an 11-3 record, which includes a runner-up showing at the Australian Open and a title on home soil at the ATP World Tour 250 event in Chennai. The win in India gave the pair their 24th team title (47th overall for Bhupathi and 44th for Paes).
The two burst onto the tennis scene in 1999, when they became the first doubles team in the Open Era to reach all four major finals, taking home titles at the French Open and Wimbledon. That same year, each attained the No. 1 doubles ranking – Bhupathi was first to claim it on April 26th and Paes joined him two months later on June 21st.
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Bhupathi is also known for his mixed doubles results. In 2006, he became the eighth player to achieve a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles. Paes isn’t short of accomplishments in mixed either, owning six titles at three different majors. A mixed title at the French Open would put him in the same company as Bhupathi.
We caught up with the Indian tennis icons after they defeated Oliver Marach and Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 5-7, 11-9 in the semi-finals of the Sony Ericsson Open, saving one match point along the way.
How special was it to start the season together by winning your home ATP World Tour event in Chennai for the fifth time together?
MB: It was very special. We won our first title together in 1997. It’s always nice to win in front of a home crowd. The title gave us a lot of confidence for our next tournaments, and we made the final at the Australian Open, so it’s been a great start to the year.
LP: It was really fun. With it being our home tournament, you want to play your best tennis. Chennai has great crowds and they’re really supportive of our careers, so to win for the fifth time together was awesome.
You both are involved with second “callings” off the court (Bhupathi heads a sport management company while Paes is engrossed with acting). How do you stay focused on your tennis careers while pursuing these other opportunities?
LP: Tennis is my main priority right now. I still have a few good years left on tour and I want to play my best tennis, and keep progressing. The acting has been fun and it’s been a nice way to test the waters, to see my options after tennis.
MB: We both love playing and tennis is the first thing on our minds. Being competitive, our results speak for themselves, so we haven’t had any issues juggling tennis with our other obligations.
India advanced to the final of the World Cup Cricket by defeating rival Pakistan. How much are you following it?
MB: Unfortunately the final match will coincide with the finals here, but we’ve been following their results. It’s definitely exciting as India hasn’t won it in 28 years.
Last Time You...
Drove Yourself Somewhere: LP - This morning (smiles); MB - Same!
Slept In Late: LP – Can’t remember!
Took A Proper Vacation: MB – After this tournament, haha
Attended A Sporting Event: LP – Cricket match a couple months ago; MB: Miami Heat game last week
Played An ATP World Tour Event For First Time: LP – Brisbane in 2010 (with Dlouhy); MB – Valencia last year (with Mirnyi)
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