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Lopez-Monaco accuse Paes of provocation

January 22, 2011 16:14 IST

Indians Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were engaged in a verbal confrontation with their rivals Juan Monaco of Argentina and Spain's Feliciano Lopez during the second round men's doubles match of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Saturday.

Just after the end of the second round men's doubles encounter, Lopez accused Paes of trying to provoke him and his partner during the match that the Indian Express duo won 7-6 ,(2) 6-4 to enter into the third round of the Grand Slam.

The match officials then had to step in to calm down the players who started remonstrating on court.

The television footage showed that the four players gathered at the net, arguing and signalling with their hands.

leander paes (right) and mahesh bhupatjiLopez, meanwhile, blamed Paes for the unsavoury spat.

"He was trying to provoke us all the time," he fumed. "We were a little tired of the style he was using on the court. We were playing, match was quiet and one of the players (Paes), he was trying to provoke us all the time.

"I know it's the style he been using the past 20 years. But that's OK. Nothing else," he added.

Lopez also said that there was a time during that match when he and his Argentine partner got irritated with the way (Paes) was trying to unsettle them.

"At one point, we were a little bit tired of the style he was using on the court and that's all what happened ... We don't want to make a big story about something that happened."

However, Bhupathi and Paes accused Lopez and Monaco of 'bodyline' tactics by drilling serves directly at them in a fiery encounter.

"It was heat of the moment," Bhupathi said, playing down a potentially nasty confrontation as the players came to the net to shake hands after the match.

"It's hot out there, we're trying to beat each other. A few unnecessary things were said. We just got into each other.

"Tried to raise the atmosphere," Bhupathi added after the third seeds had won their second round match 7-6 6-4.

"The crowd loved it."

Bhupathi said the opponents got hot under the collar about the Indians constantly yelling 'Vamos!' (Come on! in Spanish) to fire themselves up.

"They really had no reason to be as upset as they were," he said. "I don't think they have a patent on that word."

Paes was equally bemused by the verbal sparring, a rarity in tennis.

"The Melbourne sun kind of gets all of us a bit tired. We get stuck into it a little bit," he shrugged.

"It's not such a big deal. Tennis is not a contact sport. A few things happen. We can sort ourselves out."


Both Indian players insisted they were not guilty of 'sledging' -- a cricket term for trash-talking your opponent in an attempt to get under their skin.

"I've been using 'Vamos!' for about 16 or 17 years," said Paes. "Whether it's 'Vamos!' or 'Allez!' we're Indian. Nobody has a patent."

Bhupathi accused the opponents of deliberating trying to hurt Paes.

"There was one serve fired at Leander, unless he actually missed it by that much, which is possible," he said. "I don't think he would have missed it by that much.

"They couldn't go through Leander, so they were trying to take him out."

Paes promised to keep using his pigeon Spanish.

"One hundred percent," he smiled. "We don't mean anything bad by it. I love Spain. I love Spanish people. I love the language. I love the food."

Bhupathi suggested the opponents were being over-protective of their language, while Paes hyped up the sequel, noting: "Got another bunch of Spaniards in the next round!"

However, Lopez later claimed that there was no lingering problem.

On the other hand, tournament officials refused to instantly comment on the issue.