Sania, Bhupathi split as partners
Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi have decided to split as a pair, ending the speculation over their future as a mixed doubles team following the bitter selection row ahead of the London Olympics. The two players are playing with different partners at the US Open, as Mirza has teamed up with the British doubles specialist Colin Fleming, while Bhupathi is playing with the Czech Andrea Hlavackova at the last Grand Slam of the season.
'Our commitment was only up to the Olympics and we both thought we needed a break after all that has happened in the recent past,' Sania said from New York.
The selection row had resulted in straining the friendship of Mirza and Bhupathi, as an angry Mirza had alleged that she was used as a 'bait' by All India Tennis Association (AITA) to pacify a disgruntled Leander Paes, with whom both Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna had refused to play at the London games. Paes was forced to play with a lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan and in compensation he was assured pairing with Mirza in the mixed doubles event.
Mirza's preferred partner was Bhupathi, with whom she won two Grand Slams, but she was not consulted by AITA on the issue. Bhupathi had stuck with Bopanna as partner and sacrificed his partnership with Mirza. She had won Australian Open in 2009 and French Open in 2012 with Bhuapthi.
The decision of Sania to split with Bhupathi is the second big blow to Indian tennis after the acrimonious end of the Lee-Hesh partnership.
After dominating world tennis in late 1990s, Paes and Bhupathi split for the first time in 1999 after winning three Grand Slams together.