Leaked Whatsapp Chat, FB Posts: The Bhupathi-Paes Saga Continues

Mahesh Bhupathi made public his Whatsapp chat with Leander Paes on 5 March.

Updated
Tennis
4 min read
Mahesh Bhupathi (L) and Leander Paes (R). (Photo: Reuters)

Mahesh Bhupathi has said that Leander Paes has no reason to "sulk" after being excluded from India's playing squad for the Davis Cup since he conveyed in advance that his place was not confirmed in the final four.

The non-playing captain had picked Rohan Bopanna ahead of Paes to play against Uzbekistan and defended his decision.

He deserves the respect after what he’s achieved for the country to be given the option to be in the six. We gave him the option and he readily took it. So after that, to sulk about not being in the four was a bit unprofessional.
Mahesh Bhupathi

After India's Davis Cup win against Uzbekistan, Bhupathi made public his Whatsapp chat with Paes on 5 March.

In their chat, Bhupathi told Paes that he was still undecided about the combination but logically Rohan Bopanna would suit the conditions in Bengaluru.

In a post on Facebook, Bhupathi pointed out that Paes had his own definition of "respect" and also claimed that the winner of 18 Grand Slams didn’t always walk the talk when it came to disciplinary issues.

“Through the twenty years of my career, I always believed facts will always surface and unless I was pushed into a deep hole I never responded or felt the need to because regardless of what was said the media would play is up as a personal feud. Let me the first to say, there was never a personal feud, when I came on the Davis cup scene in 1994 I was a Leander fan and was excited to see him play Wayne Ferreira who was 10 in the world,” Bhupathi wrote in the stinging yet emotional Facebook post.
Non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi with Indian Davis Cup team members Rohan Bopanna, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sriram Balaji at the draw ceremony for the tie against Uzbekistan, in Bengaluru on Thursday. (Photo: PTI)
Non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi with Indian Davis Cup team members Rohan Bopanna, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sriram Balaji at the draw ceremony for the tie against Uzbekistan, in Bengaluru on Thursday. (Photo: PTI)

Bhupathi said the reason he was friends with Somdev, Rohan, Sania, Purav, Saketh was because they had mutual "respect which they never got in any form from the other (Paes)”.

“If I were to forget for five minutes, all the times he took his spot on the team for granted and showed up late for Davis cup or the Olympics, or not comply with team requests on uniform or outfit, or blatantly tell the captain or management that things have to fall in place the way he needs them to, his leaving Bangalore on Saturday in the middle of our tie was the final nail in the coffin,” said Bhupathi.

Bhupathi also wrote that if Paes does not like his ideas, he should not come in his way since he has backing of AITA.

...I enforced a gag order on the team so there would be none (drama), but he didn’t adhere to that either. I have been given the full support now of the federation, and the selection committee so now there is a New Train on the tracks, it’s to get India back to the World group, it’s full of energy, youth, positivity, hard work, and dreams...those who don’t like it should stay out of the way because we don’t plan to stop till we get there!!!
Mahesh Bhupathi on Facebook
Leander Paes (Photo: Reuters)
Leander Paes (Photo: Reuters)

Coming into the tie, Paes had a won a Challenger event in Mexico and joined the Indian team on Wednesday while the rest of the members assembled on Sunday.

Bhupathi said when there was space for only one doubles, player, Rohan Bopanna was a better choice.

...I am a big believer that we don’t require a doubles specialist for the Davis Cup team. As of today, Rohan Bopanna is India’s number one doubles player by far.

Unhappy with his exclusion, Paes had questioned the selection criteria and left for Mumbai midway into the tie, a decision which Bhupathi termed as "shocking".

I had asked Leander to do fitness test. I mean I am extremely proud of the fact that he won the Challenger. But in the same breath Rohan also competed at highest level, he played against Novak (Djokovic). So, my criteria was not of one or two things, but five, and that included fitness, of course. The six-man squad is to build a team. This (Paes walking off the day after his arrival) is one of the many shocking things that has transpired this week.

Bhupathi’s Conduct ‘Unbecoming of a Davis Cup Captain’: Leander Paes

In a response to Bhupathi releasing the Whatsapp conversations and his Facebook post, Leander Paes said that he was never informed he wasn’t playing the Davis Cup tie until he arrived in Bengaluru.

He also said that “a private exchange has been made public just points to the kind of conduct that I find unbecoming of a Davis Cup Captain”.

“As for the long post on social media by Mahesh belittling my contribution to Davis Cup, I can give a detailed rebuttal pointing out just how one-sided and convoluted his arguments are. I may do so in the near future but as far as the fans out there are concerned, they just have to examine who won what for our country when representing the flag. Talk is cheap, history books, however, don't lie,” he concluded.

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