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Bhupathi eyeing 11th Grand Slam

sports Updated: Jan 26, 2008 21:55 IST
IANS
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Mahesh Bhupathi is eyeing his seventh mixed doubles and 11th Grand Slam title when he and his protégé Sania Mirza take on Serbian Nenad Zimonojic and his Chinese partner Tiantian Sun in the Australian Open final on Sunday.

For the Indian pair this is their second Grand Slam mixed doubles championship, having come together for the first time at the US Open last year where they lost in the quarter-finals to Belarussian pair Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka, 6-4, 6-1. Mirnyi and Azarenka went on to win the title, beating India's Leander Paes and American Meghan Shaughnessy, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).

Bhupathi, the first Indian to win a Grand Slam title, also has four men's doubles titles - three with Paes and one with Mirnyi - and curiously he has won each of his mixed doubles titles with a different partner.

His first Grand Slam title was also in mixed doubles when he and his Japanese partner Rika Hiraki beat Patrick Galbraith and Lisa Raymond of the US 6-4, 6-1, at the French Open in 1997.

Bhupathi then won his first men's Grand Slam doubles title when he and Paes claimed the French Open in 1999 and then went on to win at Wimbledon too. In Paris, the Indians beat Croatian Goran Ivanisevic and American Jeff Tarongo 6-2, 7-5, and at Wimbledon they beat Dutch Paul Haarhuis and American Jared Palmer 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6.

Bhupathi had a "double" at the US Open in 1999 when he and Japanese Ai Sugiyama captured the mixed doubles title to add to the men's doubles, beating American pair Donald Johnson and Kimberly Po 6-4, 6-4.

Bhupathi and Paes then won their last Grand Slam doubles title together in 2001 when they beat Czech pair Petr Pala and Pavel Vizner 7-6, 6-3, in the French Open final.

Mahesh's last men's doubles triumph came at the 2002 US Open when he and Mirnyi beat another Czech pair Jiri Novak and Radek Stepanek 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

Bhupathi, however, continued his excellent run in the mixed doubles to win four more titles.

He won at Wimbledon in 2002 with Russian Elena Likhovtseva. The two beat Slovak Daniela Huntuchova and Zimbabwean Kevi Ullyett 6-2, 7-5. Interestingly, in 2005, Bhupathi and Huntuchova got together to win the US Open by beating Slovenian Katerina Srebotnik and Nenad Zimonojic 6-4, 6-2, but before that at Wimbledon the same year the Indian partnered France's Mary Pierce to win the title, defeating Australian Paul Hanley and Ukranian Tatiana Perebiynis 6-4, 6-2.

Bhupathi's other mixed doubles title came in 2006 at the Australian Open when he and Martina Hingis beat Likhovtseva and Canadian Daniel Nestor 6-3, 6-3.

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