Olympic medal tougher than Grand Slams, but recent controversies won’t affect our chances in London: Mahesh Bhupathi

For the first time since the ugly tennis row broke out last month, Mahesh Bhupathi was making a public appearance, says a report in Hindustan Times, adding that the questions relating to Leander 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.

According to a report in The Hindu, Mahesh Bhupathi on Thursday insisted that the recent controversy involving the selection of players for London Olympics would not affect his game during the mega event.

“It won’t affect the game at the Olympics. Wimbledon is over and we are focussing on Olympics. Mentally, we are ready. If we didn’t think our chances were realistic, we wouldn’t be going there. All of us are professionals and we think we have a chance to contend and that is why we are going,” Bhupathi told reporters at a promotional event by Omega Watch, who are official time keepers for the London Olympics.

Bhupathi had only recently, blamed the tennis row, which saw him and his doubles partner Rohan Bopanna refusing to partner India no 1 (in doubles) Leander Paes at the Games, for the duo’s early ouster from the men’s doubles at the Wimbledon championships that ended last Sunday.

Meanwhile a report in The Times Of India adds that Bhupathi chose to look at London once again, but differently. "As far as we are concerned (he and Bopanna), we want to go to the Olympics with a positive frame of mind. We have been practising hard for the last seven months and will look to go London with confidence. We are no Roger or Rafa to go and pick medals, we need to be focused and we are. We are hoping India can come up with a few medals in tennis and that is for sure. I am not Nostradamus, but I know we have seven realistic shots (in all disciplines) and hopefully, five or six of us can come through," he said.

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."