Rohan Bopanna must really have a way with the ladies. After all, he managed to break up two guys in a committed relationship, then got both of them to commit to him for a year and after that dumped one to go with the other!
Now, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are no flakes and have been around the block and then some. But Bopanna’s younger legs were too much of a lure to resist as both looked for the vigour of youth to bolster their tennis appetites. In the end, Bhupathi’s offer, with the promise of the Olympics thrown in, had Paes left out in the cold all alone with a “Dude, who stole my cheese?” expression plastered over his mug.
The proposed amicable split between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi did not go according to the script as far as Paes is concerned. While he has largely kept quiet about it, Paes has obviously not taken it too well that Bopanna first committed to him before going with Bhupathi. Given the intense rivalry between the two — perhaps dislike would be a better word — Paes appears to be all the more determined to prove himself on the Tour this year where he’ll partner Radek Stepanek.
To the extent that instead of his usual eased out Christmas season with his family, Paes chose to take his partner and daughter along to Singapore where his trainer Sanjay Singh put him through the paces. The veteran is looking for renewed vigour in those 38-year-old legs for the 18-odd weeks he intends to play this year with Grand Slams and Olympics being the priority.
Expecting Paes to sound bitter, your correspondent was surprised at his reaction. “In my head, I am actually in a place of great calm. At this stage of my career, I can hardly be distracted by what is not in my control. I am extra motivated as I failed to win a Slam last year.”
So does Bopanna going with Bhupathi and their potential pairing at the Olympics not bother him? “I wish them the best of luck. The Games are a long way off, though. We'll see how the chips fall closer to the event.”
Paes is also now more mature in handling relationships that have gone sour. “In the larger scheme of things, it does not matter what we say or do today. What will always matter is what history we leave behind. Life goes on and there are so many positives to focus on, why bother with the negativity?”
After finishing his practice session, Paes met Bhupathi just as the latter came on to court. Unlike the past, this split, at least for appearance sake, has not turned them into the scalded cats that they used to morph into earlier. There were no looks that spat fire. Instead, they smiled and exchanged inanities.
But then behaviour for appearance sake is like make-up — wipe the skin-deep camouflage and the ugly truth rears into sight. Given the twined karma the two seem to share, something does tell this writer that the final episode in their soap opera is yet to be screened.