Mahesh Bhupathi is one of India’s most decorated Tennis players of all time, with 12 Grand Slams under his belt in the doubles and mixed doubles category. The 41-year old is also one of only 8 players to have won the Career Grand Slam in mixed doubles, when he won the elusive Australian Open with Martina Hingis in 2006.
Considered the pioneer of Indian success in Grand Slams, Mahesh Bhupathi became the first Indian to win a Grand Slam title, when he triumphed at the French Open mixed doubles in 1997, with doubles partner Rika Hiraki, who was also the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam. He went on to become the World No. 1 in 1999 after a stellar year with partner Leander Paes, while also winning 12 Grand Slams in doubles and mixed doubles category.
The Unstoppable ‘Indian Express’
The duo of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes were dubbed the ‘Indian Express’ after a historic 1999, when they reached the finals of all four Grand Slams, winning two of them. The all conquering duo, became the first pair to feature in all four finals of Grand Slams in a year in the open era, while also being only the second pair in history, to have managed this unique feat.
The duo also went on to win an unprecedented 23 Davis Cup matches, the longest winning streak in doubles, while winning numerous other ATP titles in their quest for glory. However, like all good things come to an end, the duo had a fallout in 2001 and didn’t share the court for another 10 years in the professional circuit – although they made appearances together in the Davis Cup and multisports events – marking an early and abrupt end to what could have been a record-breaking partnership. The duo have had brief stints together since 2011, but unluckily they never got past their personal issues and probably missed a chance to become the all conquering team, that they were destined for.
The Donald Trump of Men’s Tennis
Bhupathi always had the acumen of a businessman, and this has been evident with his numerous off-field business ventures. He is the founder of a sports management firm, with many high-profile Indian athletes in it’s clientele, including current women’s doubles Wimbledon champion, Sania Mirza. He owns a tennis training academy, while also being the owner of production house BigDaddy Productions, which he set up with Indian actress and former girlfriend(now Wife), Lara Dutta in 2010.
However, the Padma Shri winner’s biggest achievement has to be the International Tennis Premier League, an all-star tennis league based on the hugely successful model of Indian Premier League. The league, started in 2014, is meant to be played across Asia, with six charter franchisees recruiting the biggest names in the World of Tennis.