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Hesh-Paes reunion tonight
July 29, 2004 20:21 IST
With barely a fortnight to go for the Olympics, the much-awaited reunion of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi comes on Thursday night when the duo take on Gaston Etlis and Martin Rodriques of Argentina in the second round of the $2.5 million ATP Masters Series in Toronto, Canada.
The 'Indian Express', playing on the same side of the net for the first time in a Tour event in more than two years, are seeded eighth in the tournament and are in line for a quarter-final showdown with top seeded American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan.
Bhupathi said he could sense the buzz around his reunion with his old friend and partner.
"Yes, it is good to have a goal with our preparation for the Olympics. We are going to use the events to get as many matches as we can," the world No. 5 doubles players said from Toronto.
"If we do well great, but if we don't, we will still use them as practice weeks to sharpen ourselves before the Games."
Bhupathi, on whose top 10 ranking the pair gained a direct entry to the Athens Games, where the tennis event begins on August 15, admitted that the expectations of the nation would add to the pressure, but it would also be a huge support for the duo.
"It is a great feeling to go into the Games knowing the whole country is behind us and cheering us on," he said.
The former world number one pair, who won the French Open and Wimbledon title while reaching all the four Grand Slam finals in 1999, last paired at Mallorca, Spain, in April, 2002.
The two have been playing together in team events like the Davis Cup and Asian Games, but have played with different partners on the pro tour.