Pakistanâ€™s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Indiaâ€™s Rohan Bopanna announced this week that they have dissolved their successful menâ€™s tennis doubles partnership, which was hailed as a symbol of friendship between the rival nations. Bopanna told the Indian Express newspaper that he will team up with veteran compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi in 2012, while Qureshi will next partner Dutchman Jean-Julien Roger at the Australian Open in January.
â€œAs the season has ended now, I can confirm that I am playing with Mahesh in 2012,â€ Bopanna said, declining to elaborate on the reason for parting ways with Qureshi after four years. â€œWho I want to play with is my decisionâ€¦ I did have a successful year with Aisam but now I am starting a new year with Mahesh, and itâ€™s as simple as that.â€
Bopanna and Qureshi, who joined hands in an unlikely partnership in 2007, shot to fame when they reached the US Open doubles final last year and are currently ranked ninth in the world. The duo actively promoted better India-Pakistan ties and even offered to play tennis over the land border dividing the two countries, which have a history of warfare and political tension.
Bopannaâ€™s announcement also confirmed media speculation that Indiaâ€™s best-known menâ€™s doubles combination of Bhupathi and Leander Paes, who won three Grand Slam titles, would not play together on the circuit.
Bopanna was non-committal on whether the decision to change partners was due to the London 2012 Olympics. â€œAs of now Mahesh and I have decided to start the year together,â€ he said. â€œThe Olympics have a lot of other technicalities like form and rankings, and we will see how it goes.â€