'Teaming with Bhupathi my worst decision'
At a time when the country is expecting a medal from the 'Indian Express' pair, Leander Paes on Friday opened up old wounds saying agreeing to play doubles with Mahesh Bhupathi was the worst decision of his career.
Paes claimed the decision cost him his singles career, something he regrets today. "When I was at the top of my singles career, I actually sacrificed my rankings to play Satellites and Future tournaments with him so that he could be at par with me which would help us get entry into ATP tournaments," Paes said.
"Even though everyone advised me not to pick up a rookie player like Mahesh, my instincts told me to take him along," Paes told www.Espnstar.Com. He said, with the benefit of hindsight, he now felt it was a wrong career move.
"Now, when I look back, I regret the fact that I sacrificed my singles career for him. I had won the Pilot Pen International tournament beating the top players of the world, including Pete Sampras, and reached a world ranking of 73 in 1998," the Davis Cup captain said.
"Going by my performance then, I should have focussed on singles. Opting to play doubles with Mahesh was probably the worst decision of my playing career," he said.
The two have had a tumultuous relationship over the years and despite having huge success together, have not seen eye-to-eye on several issues.
They stopped playing together on the ATP tour a long time back and also featured in a bitter spat after they won the gold medal at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.
Bhupathi was one of the players who refused to play Davis Cup under Paes after the tie against Uzbekistan earlier this year. The matter was eventually sorted out and Paes was named captain for the ongoing tie against Japan.
Ironically, the statement comes a day before Paes and Bhupathi are to play the crucial doubles match in the Asia-Oceania Group I tie against Japan.
The duo is also talking up chances for an Olympic medal in the Chinese capital in August and Paes thought the partners can put their personal differences aside for another shot at glory.
"Playing with Mahesh again will surely bring back pleasant memories and India will stand a good chance to win a medal," he added.