New Delhi:Leander Paes, who has had a love-hate relationship with Mahesh Bhupathi, on Friday was in a fresh controversy saying he regrets sacrificing singles career for his estranged doubles partner, a comment he later chose to deny.
Talking to reporters after India's Davis Cup tie against Japan, Paes vehemently denied commenting that agreeing to play with Bhupathi was the worst decision of his career, which he regrets even today.
"I cherish my doubles partnership with Mahesh and at no point of time did I say that I regret playing with him. All I said was that I regret giving up my singles career but it had nothing to do with Mahesh," Paes said.
"I spoke to him about this during the practice and mentioned to him that I had been quoted out of context. This is the only thing I can do to clear the air," he said.
He went on to say that playing with Bhupathi tomorrow would be a good practice for the Beijing Olympics.
Claiming that he was misquoted in an interview that appeared in the www.espnstar.com, the tennis ace said he regretted giving up his singles career to pursue doubles glory but he never regretted teaming up with Bhupathi.
"What I regret is slowing down and eventually giving up my singles career. I was ranked 73 at that time, was getting invitation from all the Grand Slams and was planning to break into the top 50.
"Then I decided to pursue doubles and hence gave up singles to be the number one doubles player. It had nothing to do with Mahesh. To say that I sacrificed my singles career for him is utterly silly," Paes said.
"I respect Mahesh as a player and respect everything we did together as a double pair," he added.
The interview on the portal earlier quoted Paes saying that the decision to partner Bhupathi cost him his singles career.
"When I was at the top of my singles career, I actually sacrificed my rankings to play Satellites and Future tournaments with him so that he could be at par with me which would help us get entry into ATP tournaments. Even though everyone advised me not to pick up a rookie player like Mahesh, my instincts told me to take him along.
"Now, when I look back, I regret the fact that I sacrificed my singles career for him. I had won the Pilot Pen International tournament beating the top players of the world, including Pete Sampras, and reached a world ranking of 73 in 1998," Paes was quoted as saying.
Paes and Bhupathi's tumultuous relationship is well-documented and despite having huge success together, they have not seen eye-to-eye on several issues.
They stopped playing together on the ATP tour a long time back and also featured in a bitter spat after they won the gold medal at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.
Bhupathi was one of the players who refused to play Davis Cup under Paes after the tie against Uzbekistan earlier this year.
The matter was eventually sorted out and Paes was named captain for the ongoing tie against Japan.
The duo is also talking up chances for an Olympic medal in the Chinese capital in August and Paes thought the partners can put their personal differences aside for another shot at glory.