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Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi likely to reunite for Rio

A file image of Mahesh Bhupathi (L) and Leander Paes.  (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

A file image of Mahesh Bhupathi (L) and Leander Paes. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

A 17-time grand slam champion and Olympic medallist in 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Paes is hoping to set a world record by becoming the only tennis player to play seven Olympic Games.

India’s most successful men’s doubles pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, who once had a bitter falling-out, are likely to reunite ahead of the Rio Olympics 2016.

CNN-News 18 has learnt that the two may pair up for one final crack at the medal that has eluded them all these years, and that they had met in Mumbai a few days ago to discuss the possibility.

If they do manage to put their differences aside it would be a welcome end to the bitter rivalry that divided Indian tennis, the repercussions of which are felt even now.

A 17-time grand slam champion and Olympic medallist in 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Paes is hoping to set a world record by becoming the only tennis player to play seven Olympic Games.

On the other hand, Bhupathi, who has hardly played competitive tennis since the end of 2013, has been playing challenger events all through this year.

The duo, nicknamed the 'Índian Express' has a 303–103 win-loss record together, and holds a Davis Cup record for the longest winning streak in doubles with 23 straight wins.

Paes was paired with Vishnu Vardhan at the London Olympics 2012 after Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna refused to play with him at the quadrennial event.

India’s tennis star Sania Mirza, who is in tremendous form, is the only Indian tennis player guaranteed an entry at Rio.

Rohan Bopanna, who is currently World No 11 in men's Doubles, is defending a 1000 points next week in Madrid and could slip further. He can guarantee another place for India if he finishes in top ten.

It is common knowledge that the best shot for a medal is in Mixed Doubles. Legends of world sport have been weighing in for both Leander and Rohan to partner Sania.

first published:April 26, 2016, 21:07 IST