Mahesh Bhupathi continues to laugh in the All India Tennis Association’s face. The Indian stalwart combined with Rohan Bopanna to come up trumps at the Paris Masters on Sunday, beating the Pakistani-Dutch pair of Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-6 (6), 6-3. It was the Indian pair's first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.
For Bhupathi every success post-London Olympics is a strong statement towards the tennis governing body, which has banned him from featuring for India for two years following Bhupathi’s refusal to partner Leander Paes at the London event. Bopanna is also banned for taking Bhupathi's side on the matter.
The win is also special for the 38-year-old Bhupathi as it’s his first at the Paris Masters. He had played four finals here before but returned empty-handed on all occasions, with Max Mirnyi in 2010 and with Paes in 1997, 1999 and 2000.
Whatever reasons the AITA had to ban Bhupathi, this win has proved he is still one of India’s biggest bets in international tennis. The governing body must revoke the ban as he still has a lot of tennis left in him and his huge experience will also help the next generation of tennis stars not a little.
It’s the AITA and the country that need Bhupathi more than the player needs them. It’s time to settle the differences. There could not be a better moment than this. The AITA can’t afford to ignore the 12-time Grand Slam winner in doubles and mixed doubles for long.
It goes with out saying that Bopanna also deserves the same. It was his second major triumph with Bhupathi after the Dubai ATP win in February win earlier this year.