Between being a father and adapting to a new doubles partner, Mahesh Bhupathi seems more at ease with the latter. Mention his newborn baby girl and Bhupathi is a far cry from the steely-eyed player exchanging chests bumps with Leander Paes that we so loved to see.
This Bhupathi is clearly jittery and happily confused about the latest mixed doubles player added to his family.
In the decade's first leap year, focus is firmly on the Olympics and the possible tussle over who will be the best pair to represent India's hopes. "That's not for you or me to decide. It's up to the hierarchy of Indian tennis to decide," said Bhupathi somewhat sternly. "But I do have plans. I'm 38 and have never won an Olympics medal and so this is definitely my last chance to do it. I cannot compare between the two (Olympics and a Grand Slam) but even if I win only the Wimbledon, I won't call it a bad year."
Paes is like wine
When the conversation shifted to Paes, Bhupathi volleyed every question with a deadpan expression. Bopanna and he crashed out in this year's Australian Open pre-quarters but Paes had won it with Czech partner Radek Stepanek. "That guy is just getting better with age…just like wine," said Bhupathi.
Asked if he had tweeted after Paes had won. "Of course," said Bhupathi. When a hack persisted if he had actually done that, Bhupathi shot back: "You want to bet on that?"
"I was on a plane when he (Paes) won but tweeted right after landing," Bhupathi continued.
Did he text Paes? "Of course."
What did he say? "If I told you that it won't remain personal anymore."