A Reunion And Two Splits In Indian Tennis' Doubles-Centric 2011New Delhi, Dec 18: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi reunited after nine years only to split up within months as Indian tennis' highs and lows remained centred on its doubles players in the year 2011.
New Delhi, Dec 18: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi reunited after nine years only to split up within months as Indian tennis' highs and lows remained centred on its doubles players in the year 2011.
In their bid to get an Olympic medal in the 2012 London Games, Paes and Bhupathi decided to play the season together but it all ended on a sour note as their split also led to the separation of the Indo-Pak team of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi.
Bhupathi is set to partner Bopanna in the coming season, running up to the Olympics, and it remains to be seen how they would shape up in London.
Paes, meanwhile, is likely to start the year with Serb Janko Tipsarevic in the Chennai Open after which he will play Tour events with Radek Stepanek.
Bopanna's decision to part ways with Qureshi after four fruitful years came as a shock to everyone, including the Pakistani, who couldn't believe that the Olympics would hurt their partnership for the entire season.
"I would have liked to continue because I had such a great year with Rohan. But I didn't have any say in the decision. I was just told to find a partner. It definitely came as a shock to me," Qureshi said after the split.
Paes, on the other hand, said he wanted younger legs with him on the Tour next season in order to give the tried-and-tested partnership (Bhupathi and him) relief going into the Olympics.
Winners of three Grand Slams together, except the Australian Open, Paes and Bhupathi's much-hyped comeback this year turned out to be satisfying as they made the yearend ATP World Tour Finals.
In fact, the legendary Indian pair proved that they still have a lot to offer as they reached the semifinals of the tournament, while Bopanna and Qureshi failed to win a single round-robin match.
However, the yearend performance of Bopanna and Qureshi was not a true reflection of their overall show.
The 'Indo-Pak Express' compiled a consistent season, reaching the semifinals or better at seven tournaments in all, including the US Open, where they ended runners-up in 2010.
They managed to reach the quarterfinals of the French Open where they lost to the Bryan brothers before going the whole hog and winning the Gerry Weber Open.
Their biggest achievement of the year though came when they lifted their first Masters title in Paris to become the seventh doubles team to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals.
Paes and Bhupathi too had a decent time together on the circuit. Having decided to team up after nine long years, Paes and Bhupathi, who share 23 Grand Slams titles between them, started with a bang.
They won the doubles title at their very first tournament after the reunion -- the Chennai Open in January.
The two then reached the final of the first Grand Slam of the year - the Australian Open - where they lost to the American twins Bob and Mike Bryan.
Paes, then, famously said that the best thing to have happened was to have their "friendship back".
The pair went on to win their second title of the season by clinching the Sony Ericsson Open in April to become number one in the ATP World Tour doubles team rankings before they claimed their third title of the season in the Western & Southern Open final, their first title in 10 years at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati.