Paes, Bhupathi to split again?

New Delhi: Amid speculation of tennis stars Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi splitting again, the All India Tennis Association on Tuesday pleaded ignorance about the veteran duo parting ways but said the players are free to choose their partners.

There is intense speculation that Paes and Bhupathi are headed for another split, after rejoining forces early this year.

Media reports said that the two veteran players are looking to play with younger partners from 2012 season with Bhupathi pairing with Davis Cup teammate Rohan Bopanna.

"I have not heard it from either Rohan or Mahesh. Let`s see but the players have the freedom to choose their partners to play in the circuit," said Anil Khanna, AITA Secretary General.

Bhupathi, on his part, has denied any split and said he and Paes will play in the season-ending finale in London from November 20.

Asked whether he was splitting with Paes, he said "I am going to play with him in London. I have just come from Pune and have not read any report (about the split)".

They had qualified for the finale as a team but the question is about their pairing for the next season and also for the Davis Cup and Olympics, which could be their last.

Khanna said as far as Davis Cup and Olympics is concerned, AITA`s selection committee will decide which pair will take field.

According to the International Olympic Committee and ITF rules, the top-10 players in rankings get a direct entry and a direct entry player can choose any partner for the doubles event.

"At present, all three Paes, Bhupathi and Rohan are in top-10. Let`s see what`s the situation in June (when entries have to be sent for Olympics). We can actually send two pairs but who that will be decided by our selection committee," Khanna said.

Paes and Bhupathi had paired early this year after nine years. They are the most successful Indian tennis doubles players with 23 Grand Slams between them.

In the year 1999, the duo reached the finals of all the 4 Grand Slams winning the Wimbledon and the French Open, thus becoming the first Indian pair to win a doubles event at a Grand slam event.

Together they have won three major trophies and only Australian Open elude them as a pair.


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