NEW DELHI: Indian tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi has refused to play with Leander Paes at the Olympics, saying he does not trust his erstwhile partner, a report said Saturday.
The All-India Tennis Association (AITA) on Friday named the ageing duo for the men's doubles event in London even though Bhupathi had publicly stated he wanted to play with his current partner Rohan Bopanna.
Bhupathi reportedly told the Hindustan Times newspaper on Saturday that he would never play again with Paes, who he has won three Grand Slam doubles titles with.
“Doubles is not only about serve and volley, it's about mutual respect and trust,” Bhupathi told the paper from London where he is preparing for Wimbledon with Bopanna.
“I don't trust him (Paes) after he dumped me without any warning at the end of last year.”
Paes, who turns 39 on Sunday, and Bhupathi, 38, were regarded as one of the world's top pairs after winning the doubles titles at the French Open in 1999 and 2001, and Wimbledon in 1999.
The duo went their separate ways in 2002 for yet-unspecified reasons, although they continued to team up for India in the Davis Cup and multi-sports events such as the Olympics.
Bhupathi played with Paes at the 2011 Australian Open in a bid to team up for the Olympics, but both separated once again on the circuit.
Bhupathi hoped the AITA would let him partner Bopanna before the deadline for Olympic nomination ends on June 21.
“An Olympic medal is the toughest thing to win for a professional athlete. It takes precise preparation and meticulous planning. Rohan and I have done that,” Bhupathi told the newspaper.
Asked if he will change his mind and play with Paes, Bhupathi responded: “Rohan and I won't back down, for we feel that we have earned the right to represent our country together."
“We have devoted six months of our lives to nothing else.”AITA secretary Anil Khanna insisted that Paes and Bhupathi were the right pairing for the Olympics and promised action if any player went against the selection committee's decision.
“We decided that the most appropriate pairing for the Olympics would be Leander and Mahesh,” said Khanna. “If they don't play, we will take action. We will not send them to the Olympics at all.”
Paes, who won the men's singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta
Olympics, and Bhupathi have figured in the doubles at four Olympics, but failed to win a medal.