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Bhupathi to partner Nestor before retiring in 2013

Last updated on: September 18, 2012 18:28 IST

Mahesh Bhupathi will retire form tennis next year.

The 38-year-old, the first Indian to win a Grand Slam title -- when he partnered Japan's Rika Hiraki to win the mixed doubles at the French Open in 1997 -- announced he will hang up his racket at the end of next year.

"Next year will definitely be my last year on court," admitted Bhupathi, in Mumbai, on Tuesday.

"I am at the end of my career," he continued, adding, "I am not even sure if I will play the whole schedule."

- Bhupathi slams AITA's 'dictatorial attitude'

Bhupathi's decision brings down the curtain on an illustrious 18-year career that, among other things, yielded 18 major titles.

Having reached the decision, the veteran has also cut short his partnership with compatriot Rohan Bopanna and will partner Canadian veteran Daniel Nestor in 2013.

Bhupathi and Bopanna had joined forces keeping the London Olympics in mind.

"Rohan wanted to do a few things," explained Bhupathi, about the decision.

"He will obviously play for many more years. So it makes sense for him to find someone, hopefully, like Aisam (Qureshi), who is as young as him to build a partnership that for the next four to five years and try and win a major," he added.

The decision, along with his (and Bopanna's) ongoing stand-off with the AITA also ensures Bhupathi is unlikely to play for India again.  

"The reality is I have played my last match for India," admitted Bhupathi, before proceeding to elucidate his point.

"First they (AITA) have announced this ban, and even if we (him and Bopanna) succeed to revert it, there's no way we will be discussed at selection meeting," he explained.

Bhupathi, for most of his career, was a key player for India in the Davis Cup, and along with former partner Leander Paes, holds the record for the longest winning streak (23 straight matches) in doubles at the competition. 

Bikash Mohapatra