Paes urges Bhupathi to put aside personal differences for country

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New Delhi, May 22 (UNI) Putting across his stand to make things clear as controversies continue to hog Indian tennis, Leander Paes has extended his arm towards Mahesh Bhupathi urging him to keep personal differences aside and give priority to the country at the Beijing Olympics.

Reacting to Bhupathi's comments, Paes told mediapersons here today, ''I know our differences are very evident but I have been guaranteed by the AITA and the International Olympic Committee that I and Mahesh have the best chance to get a medal at the Olympics.'' Earlier, Bhupathi had preferred Rohan Bopanna over Paes for Olympics saying they might not be the best but at least have the preparation required to compete at the professional level.

Paes replied back to his doubles partner whom he paired in the Davis Cup against Japan recently saying, ''Everyone is smart enough to decide that whio is the best respresentative for India at Olympics.

''I think practise in tournaments will hardly make a difference because any how we will undergo a rigorous training session before we move to Beijing,'' Paes said.

He asserted that as far as the understanding of the game was concerned, both of them have played together for a long time to rule out that as an issue.

''We have already played together for eight long years and at that time we ruled the world in doubles in almost every Grand Slam that we played.

''I think the match sharpness will always be there and what if we play together in a tournament and get first round exits. It is just a difference of opinion that we have which obviously can be sorted out but for that we need to talk,'' he said.

The Bronze medalist in 1996 Atlanta Olympics further added that Bhupathi has never expressed his wishes to him and said he was disappointed to know about the matters of such importance through media.

''It is very unfortunate that something like this has happened.

''I have tried to communicate with him but there has been no response from his side. He has never tried to communicate with me and the communication approach adopted by him (Bhupathi) is only through letters and e-mails and that too to AITA,'' he conceded.

The ace duo, which has won seven Grand Slams together, have been playing various tournaments away from home but with different partners.

''We do face each other in various tournaments but he has never interacted with me. Making faces from the 10th floor of his hotel is difinitely not the way to communicate,'' Paes said.

Paes pointed out that though the two doubles partner have not played much together in recent times but said he was sure that the quality of game would still remain the same.

''We showed in the Davis Cup against Japan that together we are a force to reckon with and I believe that if Mahesh has a wish then it has to be looked at.

''But Mahesh should also face the fact that in India if there is any doubles team that has a chance to bring a Gold at Olympics, it is our combination,'' he said.

Paes claimed that Bopanna is not doing well with his fitness and the recent injuries must have deteriorated his game as well.

He further commended All India Tennis Association (AITA) for the way it has handled the whole issue.

''AITA is under a tremendous pressure and Anil Khanna has done a fantastic job with so much at stake and at the end of the day all such controversies will affect me, Mahesh and the country as a whole,'' he said.

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