Mahesh Bhupathi, Managing Director of MBTA & Retired Indian Professional Tennis Player
Mahesh Bhupathi, who was born on June 7, 1974, became the first Indian to win a Grand Slam tournament in 1997. He is one of the eight tennis players who have achieved a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles. Bhupathi is best known as one of the top doubles players in 1990s and 2000s. His partnership with Leander Paes earned the duo three doubles titles in 1999. Bhupathi and Paes also became the first doubles team to reach the finals of all four Grand Slams – the first time since 1952. He was conferred the Padma Shri in 2001. Mahesh Shrinivas Bhupathi (born 7 June 1974) is a retired Indian professional tennis player. In 1997, he became the first Indian to win a Grand Slam tournament (with Rika Hiraki).[a] With his win at the Australian Open mixed doubles in 2006, he joined the elite group of eight tennis players who have achieved a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles. He is also the founder of International Premier Tennis League. In December 2016, Bhupathi was appointed as India’s next non-playing Davis Cup captain and took over the reins from Anand Amritraj in February 2017.
1995–2006 Mahesh Bhupathi is considered one of the top doubles players of the 1990s and 2000s. In 1999, Bhupathi won three doubles titles with Leander Paes, including the French Open and Wimbledon. He and Paes became the first doubles team to reach the finals of all four Grand Slams, the first time such a feat has been achieved in the open era and the first time since 1952. On 26 April of that year, they became the world no. 1 doubles team. Bhupathi also won the US Open mixed doubles with Ai Sugiyama of Japan. In 2006, Bhupathi teamed with Martina Hingis in the Australian Open mixed doubles competition. Entering the tournament unseeded and as wildcards, the first-time pair defeated four seeded opponents along the way, while only dropping a single set throughout. Bhupathi and Hingis defeated the sixth-seeded team of Daniel Nestor and Elena Likhovtseva in straight sets, 6–3, 6–3, to capture the championship. It was the sixth mixed doubles Grand Slam for Bhupathi, and the first one for Hingis. By winning the Australian Open, Bhupathi completed a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles.
2007–2008 In 2007, Bhupathi and Radek Štěpánek reached the 2007 Australian Open men’s doubles event’s quarterfinals. Bhupathi teamed with Štěpánek at the 2007 French Open to make the doubles semifinals, defeating two-year defending champions Jonas Björkman and Max Mirnyi in the quarterfinals. The team lost to the eventual champions Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor. After Wimbledon, Bhupathi teamed with Pavel Vízner to win the 2007 Canada Masters, defeating the top-ranked doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan en route. After this victory, he won a tournament in New Haven with Nenad Zimonjić. At the 2007 US Open, he and Zimonjić paired in doubles. After the US Open, the team that beat Bhupathi and Štěpánek in the French Open semifinals, Knowles and Nestor, split up. Bhupathi became Knowles’ partner, while Zimonjić became Nestor’s, but back surgery meant he was out until the end of the year.
2009–2012 In 2009, Bhupathi and compatriot Sania Mirza won the mixed doubles title at the Australian Open, beating Nathalie Dechy and Andy Ram, 6–3, 6–1, in the final. The Indian pair thus made up for the disappointment of the previous year’s final when they were beaten by Sun Tiantian and Nenad Zimonjić. With this win, Bhupathi’s count in mixed doubles Grand Slam titles increased to seven. Bhupathi broke up his partnership with Knowles and began playing once again with Max Mirnyi, with whom he played to win the 2002 US Open. In 2011, Bhupathi reunited with former playing partner Leander Paes for the 2011 Australian Open. The team reached the final, but lost 3–6, 4–6 to the Bryan brothers.On 7 June 2012, Bhupathi and Sania Mirza won the French Open mixed doubles. On 4 November 2012, Bhupathi and partner Rohan Bopanna won the Paris Masters cup. In spite of suffering a setback with their loss against Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen in the ATP Tour Finals opener, the Indian duo reached the final round of the ATP Tour Finals, but suffered a defeat at the hands of Marcel Granollers and Marc López. Bhupathi serves in his third-round match partnering Mark Knowles during the 2008 US Open.
2013 Bhupathi and Bopanna played with different partners for the first three months of 2013, Bhupathi winning the tournament in Dubai in March with Michaël Llodra, but rejoined starting with the Monte-Carlo Masters.
Mahesh Bhupathi is known for his big serve. According to Nadal, his strong backhand makes him the best for an Ad Court player. Roger Federer acclaims him as one of the best players of all time. He often discusses strategies between the serves with his partner during the match and also communicates using finger-at-the-back signals.
Bhupathi appeared with Paes in six season finales. In 2011, they appeared, for the first time since 2002, after securing qualification in mid-October. Bhupathi played at the year-end championships with Paes from 1997 to 2000 and in 2002, reaching three finals. In 1997, they lost the final to Rick Leach and Jonathan Stark. They lost the 1999 final to Sébastien Lareau and Alex O’Brien. In 2000, they lost the final to Donald Johnson and Pieter Norval. Bhupathi also qualified with Max Mirnyi in 2003, 2004, and 2010, when they finished runners-up to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjić. He appeared at the finals with Mark Knowles in 2008 and 2009. In 2012, he and Rohan Bopanna made it to the final, where they lost to Marcel Granollers and Marc López. MBTA is a pioneering effort to promote the game of tennis across different levels. By launching our ‘School Tennis Program’ in various schools across india, MBTA has established itself as a force that adopts a systematic and well-planned approach at every stage in the process of tennis coaching. It is customised to the capabilities and needs of each participant and leads to a comprehensive and highly effective graduation process.
PEOPLE BEHIND MBTA
It was in 2006 that Mahesh Bhupathi’s vision became a reality. MBTA was founded by the 12-time Grand Slam winner with the objective of imparting professional, world-class training (both practical and theoretical) and highly specialised coaching to youngsters of all age-groups. Another objective of the MBTA was to increase the accessibility of tennis by ensuring that people across all socio-economic groups have the opportunity to experience the joy of tennis. Mr. Gaurav Natekar, former India No. 1, Arjuna awardee and double Asian Games gold medallist is the CEO and the driving force behind MBTA.
Today, MBTA has established itself as India’s premier tennis academy with over 20 centres spread across the country, imparting international quality coaching to over 8000 children across various levels. Besides that, we have a team of over 90 professionally trained coaches complemented by a fully integrated backend team that works tirelessly on conceiving, developing and reinventing coaching programs, plans events for the children and puts into place systems to standardise our tennis coaching program.
Managing Director of MBTA, is an icon of Indian sports. This 12 time Grand Slam Champion has represented India in over 50 Davis Cup matches, for over 15 years in India, has successfully realised his dream of creating India’s most progressive coaching system.