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Paes slams Bhupathi after Asiad loss
rediff Sports Bureau | December 05, 2006 14:00 IST
India's tennis team captain Leander Paes on Tuesday questioned partner Mahesh Bhupathi's commitment after the duo's loss in the tennis team event at the Asian Games in Doha.
Paes and Bhupathi were shocked by Chinese Taipei's Yeu Tzuoo Wang and Yen Hsun Lu 2-6, 3-6 as India went down 1-2 in the tennis team event on Monday.
'I just feel that Hesh (Bhupathi) should be honest with himself, his injuries and his tennis. I have tremendous respect for him; he's a fantastic tennis player and has done a lot for the country. But, at the moment, he needs to be honest with himself, the way he's playing, the way his career's going and also with his responsibility to the team,' Paes told the Times Now news channel.
India's top-ranked player Rohan Bopanna had drawn India level after Karan Rastogi went down to Wang in the opening singles. But Paes and Bhupathi, the former world No 1 pair, surrendered tamely, losing the match in just 76 minutes at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha.
'At the end of the day, we really have to put the best team forward and what we turned out there today in the doubles court -- I take full responsibility also because not only am I the team captain but was also there on the court -- was really disappointing,' Paes added.
Indian coach Nandan Bal also came hard on Bhupathi and felt he was to be blamed for the team's exit.
'I just felt that Mahesh wasn't reaching the ball enough. As a combination, they weren't rusty, so I just got the feeling that sometimes Mahesh wasn't reaching the ball. Volleys were going past him, he's not getting to it, not bending down low,' Bal told Times Now.
Paes and Bhupathi are defending champions in the individual doubles event and it will be interesting to see if the two players partner each other again after Paes' comments.
Paes and Bhupathi, winners of three Grand Slam doubles titles, have had a frosty relationship since their split a few years ago.