Asian Games: Paes, Bhupathi defend doubles title

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi displayed the qualities that once made them the World's best, as they defended their Asian Games Doubles title.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:38 IST
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They don't know what it means to give up, and have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on numerous occasions in the past, especially when playing for India. And on Wednesday, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi displayed the qualities that once made them the World's best and most feared doubles team, as they defended their Asian Games Doubles title. "If Mahesh and me are left alone, we get along just fine, we have respect for each other and we have gotten through all sorts of stuff. We've known each other since we were kids," said Leander Paes. Good performance Despite two Golds, there was little time to celebrate for the Indian express Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati. India's tennis captain spent most of his time clarifying remarks he reportedly made about his partner Mahesh Bhupati. Leander categorically denied saying that he would never play with Bhupati again. "Mahesh is welcome on and deserves his place in the Davis Cup team and the Olympics. I would love to play Davis Cup with him. He is one of the brains of the team and pillars. And I love playing with him for the country," said Leander Paes. Despite the clarifications it has been a bitter sweet victory. The last two weeks saw the feud between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi spiling onto the courts. Mahesh was asked to undergo a fitness test and Paes said he wasn't willing to play with him. But finally the former world number one pair stuck with each other and went on to defend their title in Doha. Early days Their early days together brought them a lot of success. Their French Open title in 1999 made the world sit up and take notice, as they started a remarkable sequence of wins, finishing as the number one pair in the world that year. Their three Grand Slam Doubles titles include the French Open and Wimbledon in 1999 and another French Open crown two years later. But they will go down in history as the first pair in the open era to make it to the final of all Grand Slams in a single year managing that feat in 1999. That they take immense pride in playing for India is evident from the two Asian Games Golds they've won. They had beaten Korea's Hee Seok Chung and Hyung Taik Lee in Busan, four years ago and their phenomenal 20-2 Davis Cup Doubles record makes them one of the most successful pairs in the history of the competition. But even before their first Grand Slam, they had a slew of titles in the bag winning three consecutive Chennai Open titles from 1997 to 99, and making seven ATP Finals in 1997, winning six and losing in the Final of the ATP World Doubles Championship. "They share a fantastic chemistry together," said Manisha Malhotra, Former Asian Games Silver Medallist. Olympic Gold The happy days are well behind them now. That was clear from the way Bhupathi threatened to never play for India again, after the AITA paired him with Shikha Uberoi and not Sania Mirza, for the Asiad Mixed Doubles event. Mahesh has already said that the day they stop playing for the country together will surely be the most tragic one for Indian sport- a tragedy that fans don't want to see unfolding. The fans would like nothing more than to see this highly talented pair add an Olympic medal to an already glittering partnership. But one thing's for sure, a billion people are hoping that they can sign off with a final hurrah, after winning that all-elusive Olympic Gold at Beijing 2008.

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  • Tennis
  • Leander Paes

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