Mahesh Bhupathi, the Ole Miss tennis All-American who's found success on the international stage as a world-class doubles partner, is causing a stir in Olympic circles.
Bhupathi says he will refuse to play with former partner Leander Paes next month in the Olympics, as demanded by the All India Tennis Association. And Bhupathi is saying it in a headline-grabbing fashion.
He's calling Paes a "backstabber," as in this story from The Times of India. As the story indicates, they've had a volatile relationship dating back to at least 2000.
But Paes' decision to take on a new partner in November was apparently the last straw.
"After he formed another partnership in November without even talking to me about it, I decided I wasn't even going to play with this guy again. I couldn't even look at him, never mind play tennis with him," Bhupathi told the Times.
Strong stuff. So is an interview here with the Hindustan Times. "Doubles is about trust and respect," Bhupathi said. "I don't trust Paes."
The India tennis federation has a few days to smooth this over before official entry lists are required, but this reaction from the federation makes it seem unlikely.
Bhupathi and Paes have competed together in four previous Olympic tournaments. Their best finish was a semifinals appearance in 2004.
The 38-year-old Bhupathi has partnered for 50 career doubles titles, 26 of those with Paes, including four Grand Slam men's doubles titles. He won his eighth Grand Slam mixed doubles title earlier this month at the French Open.