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For Bhupathi, there'll be no 'free lunches' in London


It seems even the 'Official Timekeepers' of the London Olympics can't start an event on time in India. But as soon as the formalities were done with — Omega honouring Indian Olympian Mahesh Bhupathi — and the floor thrown open for questions, Bhupathi, the rest of the guests on the dais and the bunch of media persons waited with bated breath: When would the 'L' word be spoken.

Not the London Olympics. But Leander Paes.

For the first time since the ugly tennis row broke out last month, Bhupathi was making a public appearance. And the questions relating to Paes, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza arrived in due course. Bhupathi smiled and took it on the chin.

"Rohan and I have been training hard and we are full-time partners on the tour. You need some kind of preparation because we are not as talented as Roger (Federer) or Rafa (Nadal) to pick up the pieces and win a medal. We felt it was extremely necessary to go with proper preparation and hence we are (going together)," Bhupathi reiterated, on Thursday, about the professional reasons leading up to his teaming up with Bopanna instead of putting the 'Indian Express' back on track.

The 38-year-old, admitting this would well be his last chance of winning an Olympic medal, said the Olympics were by far the toughest men's doubles event, even more so than the Grand Slams.

A cursory look at the doubles entry list shows why. The 'Big Four' of men's tennis — Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray — will all participate in the Olympic doubles.

"That is the main difference," he said. "The Olympic doubles event is possibly the hardest doubles event in the world because you have got every top singles guy trying to get Olympics glory and all the top doubles teams are there as well. So, there are no easy matches, no free lunches, so we have to focus on our first-round match first and then worry about the rest later."

Bhupathi and Bopanna begin their journey to London, via Hamburg, Germany, where they will be playing the ATP 500 clay tournament, which begins on Monday.


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