Kolkata: There is this old notion that when two bulls fight, it is actually the grass beneath that gets crushed. And that is exactly what can be said of Indian tennis after the resurrection of the old rivalry between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi that is bound to have an impact on the youth in the game. And the repercussions have already started to make its presence felt as people all over are now only talking of this rivalry and good performances by N Sriram Balaji and Prajnesh Gunneswaran have gone unnoticed.
And very rightly, former Davis Cupper Vishal Uppal said, “The youngsters are again caught in quagmire of Leander- Mahesh saga.” In an interaction with PTI, Uppal criticised Bhupathi for leaking Paes and his private conversation and said that this didn’t speak well of someone like Bhupathi who was the captain of the side.
Said Uppal, “He should not have done that because he is the captain of the team, he has to be a bigger statesman. It’s unfortunate this drama is playing out again. The reality is we should actually be talking about good debuts by Balaji and Prajnesh.”
This Paes-Bhupathi saga in Indian tennis isn’t something that is new but has a bitter past attached to it. And this recent development in this long-standing rivalry has done even greater harm to Indian tennis, feels Uppal. “This saga will continue and Indian tennis will be hurt. Making a personal chat public does not make sense and that was the grouse players had with AITA. The transition from being a player to a captain has to be understood. Mahesh is a very important statesman in Indian tennis and it reflects so badly again,” he says.
Another legendary figure in Indian tennis, Anand Amritraj too, quite understandably spoke along the same lines and said that this episode between the two was nothing but, “a new episode in an old story.” Amritraj lambasted both Bhupathi and Paes for their roles in this mess which was a threat to Indian tennis. While speaking to PTI, he said, “It’s just a new chapter in old story. It’s just tragic that it has cropped up again. There is fault on both sides. It was pretty badly handled by Mahesh. Why did Mahesh not send a mail to Leander and told him clearly that you are are not in final four? If he had decided to pick Rohan two months back, why keep this guy (Leander) hanging?”