Indian tennis fans, who have been fed on a diet of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi winning Grand Slams together while growing up, have called for the pair to join hands again ahead of the Tokyo Olympics slated next year. The nostalgia-filled call has come to life after the duo engaged in witty banter on social media over a ‘Frying Pan’ challenge which the legendary Paes started. While Paes is still to call time on his illustrious career, Bhupathi had retired sometime back and recently served as the non-playing captain of India’s Davis Cup team. Also Read - French Open 2020: Rafael Nadal on Novak Djokovic Surpassing Roger Federer's Record | WATCH
Paes had said that 2020 would be his final hurrah but with the Olympics postponed, he might reconsider his time on the court with Bhupathi and his father, Vece Peas, saying the 46-year old can continue for one more year. Also Read - French Open 2020 Final: Chris Evert Calls Out Novak Djokovic For 'Rivalry With Rafael Nadal Biggest in Sport' Comment
Terming it as “The Last Roar”, Olympics bronze medallist Paes had said this would be the last year of his professional tennis career. Also Read - French Open 2020: Novak Djokovic Showers Big Praise on Rafael Nadal After Historic Roland Garros Triumph, Says Today You Showed Why You Are King of Clay
Paes won the do-or-die doubles tie with Rohan Bopanna in India’s Davis Cup Qualifiers against Croatia in Zagreb earlier this year. After their win, Sumit Nagal was routed by Marin Cilic, which led to India losing the tie 1-3.
With the triumph, Leander extended his Davis Cup record of most doubles victories to 45 in what is possibly his final appearance in the competition.
Paes also finished runner-up in his final ATP Tour match on home soil at the Bengaluru Open. In a Twitter exchange recently, Paes challenged fans to take up the ‘Frying Pan’ challenge.
“Here’s a challenge for you guys while we’re in lockdown! How many can you do? I’m challenging all of you out there. Send in your entries with the Frying Pan Challenge, tag me, and I’ll share the best few!” Paes had tweeted along with the video of him hitting no-look volleys with a frying pan.
Bhupathi, who had partnered Paes in men’s doubles for many years in the past, was in awe of the 46-year-old. Quoting the video put on the ATP Twitter handle, Bhupathi wrote, “Man can volley with anything.”
Bhupathi then did his own bit with a smaller frying pan, saying: “@Leander here you go, I tried your no-look, talking to the camera version but I don’t have that kind of skill so I went down in size to a mini frying pan to make it challenging.”
“You’ve always had mad skills and I remember that volley winning us a few Grand Slams,” Paes tweeted in reply to Bhupathi.
Bhupathi has won three of his four Grand Slam doubles titles with Paes. The pair have had their well-documented differences in the past with a lot said about their frosty relationship off the court.
“Lee-Hesh for Olympics next year, anybody?” a fan wrote on Twitter. “Anytime, anyday, ” pat came a reply. There were many others who felt the same way as their minds went back to those glorious days of the Lee-Hesh era.