Olympic rules have forced Mahesh Bhupathi to let bygones be bygones.
After the Doha Asian Games last year, where Bhupathi’s commitment was doubted by captain Leander Paes and coach Nandan Bal, the player vowed that he would not play for India again.
Now he might. Not just in the Olympics, but also the Davis Cup. Because as per Olympic rules, he has to play for India at least once in 2007 or 2008.
The last time Bhupathi played for India was at the Doha Asiad. That means he only has India’s Davis Cup ties in February or April to fulfill the eligibility criteria.
Sources close to Bhupathi confirmed to the Hindustan Times that the 33-year-old will communicate his availability to the All India Tennis Association (AITA) soon.
In Mumbai, Paes said that he and Bhupathi would be the “obvious choice” to represent India in the Olympics. “But let’s not jump to a conclusion now,” Paes told reporters during the unveiling ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Torch designed by computer makers Lenovo on Wednesday.
“The Olympics are seven months away. At this moment give us the freedom to focus on what is currently on hand and you will know at the right time about it (the partnership).”
Though Paes did not spell out his reasons for staying non-committal, he gave enough hints that the final decision would depend on Bhupathi playing in the Davis Cup ties in February against Uzbekistan and the next round in April.
Paes aims at No 1 ranking
Asked whether he will also play a few ATP tournaments with Bhupathi if they were to pair in the Olympics, Paes said it was not necessary. “We have played together for seven years. We never forget playing together. That is not a worry.
“Moreover, apart from reaching peak form by August, I also want to become No 1 with my new partner Paul Hanley and for that I have to play at least 19 events with him this year.”
The pair begin their 2008 campaign in Auckland next month and will try to hit form before the Australian Open.