The tag of legend fits Mahesh Bhupathi perfectly. In 1997, when the tall and strapping Indian won the French Open mixed doubles crown with diminutive Rika Hiraki in Paris, he created history. Bhupathi, most famous for his electrifying backhand return of serve, which could find every possible angle on a tennis court, was a sheer delight.
Well-groomed, articulate and a shrewd student of the game, Bhupathi won four men’s doubles titles at the Grand Slams and seven in mixed doubles. Sadly, he could not win an Olympic doubles medal, though he and Leander Paes featured in many attempts.
Bhupathi will be at the RevSportz Trailblazers 2.0 in Kolkata on March 7, 2024 to share his rich experience. As a player, he had shone in singles as well first, before he became full-time doubles expert after a right-shoulder surgery. Blessed with a booming serve, Bhupathi could uncork champagne stuff with aces coming in a hailstorm.
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The #HeshLee pair has given immense joy to each and every Indian tennis lover! World no. 1 in men’s doubles, the first Indian to win a grand slam, @Maheshbhupathi is a legend of the game! @TataSteelLtd @BoriaMajumdar @AITA__Tennis pic.twitter.com/HmfxTUHLz7
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Where his true class emerged was in doubles, with Paes as partner, on the ATP Tour and at the Grand Slams. It is no exaggeration that in mixed doubles, Bhupathi was very successful as he could team up with his partners and bring out the best in them.
As a thinker and motivator, Bhupathi took on the Davis Cup captaincy role as well with aplomb. Being a team man to the core, he not only played in the team event with passion, he also groomed many youngsters. His rare ability to mesh with the younger players saw him emerge as a leader.
Even during his playing days, Bhupathi was an entrepreneur, heading Globosport, a company which brought elite tennis events to India. It was thanks to his popularity that India got to see elite athletes like Martina Navratilova. Later, Bhupathi brought the IPTL (International Premier Tennis League) as well to India, almost a decade ago. The format was rich and Indian tennis fans got to see some of the big players in action.
Not many would know that it was Bhupathi that first saw the spark and talent in Sumit Nagal. For the record, he had also mentored Karman Kaur Thandi. As a speaker and analyst, Bhupathi is definitely cutting edge. Kolkata will be privileged to see the doubles ace in flesh and blood. Again.
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