Hesh did not want to play with me, says Lee

The controversy over Bhupathi's sudden pull out from the Asian Games has taken a new twist.

india Updated: Oct 04, 2006 16:22 IST

The controversy over Mahesh Bhupathi's sudden pull out from the Doha Asian Games took a new twist with Leander Paes saying it was the former who refused to play with him in the lead up events.

Bhupathi hadsaid on Monday, after winning the Kingfisher Airlines Open doubles title with Croatian Mario Ancic, that he was retiring from all team events including the Asian Games in December.

The Bangalorean had said that since there was less chance of him pairing with Paes on the ATP Tour in the coming months since his former partner was committed to Czech Republic's Martin Damm, it would not give the duo a reasonable chance of winning a medal at Olympics-level competitions.

Paes, however, said in a statementon Tuesday nightthat it was Bhupathi who found it not possible to play with him in the Mumbai event, which the duo had intended to use it as a tune up event for Doha, because he was partnering Ancic.

"The Mumbai Open was a prelude to the Asian Games which I believe would have been valuable match practice. However, Mahesh had prior commitments and chose not to play with me, which I do respect," Paes said in the statement.

"This decision comes as a surprise as I have not been informed directly by him.
In fact, Mahesh confirmed with me that we would be playing the Asian Games in 2 months, the Davis Cup and the Olympics in 2008."

"The only discussion between both of us (during the ATP Tour event) has been about playing the ATP Tour for 2007."

"It would be unprofessional at this stage, having spent an entire year nurturing my partnership with Martin which is beginning to yield results, to now change partners. Mahesh understands the game and he has stated, respects that.

"As the Indian Davis Cup Captain, Mahesh has a place on my team, and as previously agreed upon, I hope we do play the Asian Games, Davis Cup and Olympics 2008 for India together."

First Published: Oct 04, 2006 11:59 IST