What is retirement? German writer Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe explains this in a simple yet effective way. Retirement is when you quit working just before your heart does. To bid adieu to something you have been attached to almost all your life is never easy, but timing is the most important factor. And Mahesh Shrinivas Bhupathi couldn’t have timed his retirement better. After playing on the professional circuit for 18 years, the 39-year-old will finally call it a day at the end of the year. For one last time, we will get to watch his familiar 6 foot 1 inch figure play his heart out at Flushing Meadows in his 68th and last Slam. For the record, it was at the US Open, way back in 1995, that Bhupathi made his first Grand Slam appearance. This time, he will be playing alongside German Philipp Petzschner, who won the US Open men’s doubles title two years back partnering Austrian Jurgen Melzer.
It will be anything but a cakewalk for this Indo-German pair as in all probability, they might face the Bryan brothers in the pre-quarterfinals; their first barrier being the Canadian duo of Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil.
Bhupathi has seen it all – be it the highs and lows with Leander Paes, tiffs with AIFF, Davis Cup glory, being excluded from the Indian team or problems in spotting the right partner. Add to it, he is not in the best of form, with a win-loss record of 16-11. This year, he has won just one title with Michael Llodra in Dubai, made a first-round exit at Roland Garros, lost in pre-quarterfinals of Australian Open and bowed out in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
But Bhupathi is never one to shy away from problems. So get ready to witness some hard-hitting and heartening tennis from the ‘big boy’ of Indian tennis.
American motivational speaker Tony Robbins once said, “Passion is the genesis of genius”. This saying fits Bhupathi to a T. For it is this passion that helped him survive in this big, not-so-bad, competitive world of tennis for almost two decades. And this passion added with loads of ambition will see him raise the bar of tennis by a few more notches post retirement.
Yes, his pet project – International Premier Tennis League, likely to be kickstarted next year, is nothing short of an ambitious one. But he has the resources, both monetary and manual, plus the support of top players to pull this off in style. And that’s why, the timing of his retirement is perfect.
Craving a fairytale ending is at an all-time high, but title or not, Bhupathi will remain a winner in our hearts. His Twitter description says ‘Mahesh Bhupathi - An Outlier, Twice over!’ But when it comes to Indian tennis, he is anything but that. For his farewell is a temporary one. He is already Andy Murray’s business manager and will soon be back with a bang as an administrator too.