New Delhi:Not willing to take it lying down, Leander Paes on Thursday hit back at Mahesh Bhupathi, saying it was "silly" and "childish" on his part to put personal preferences ahead of national interest which jeopardises India's medal chances in the Beijing Olympic Games.
Paes admitted he doesn't see his estranged 'Indian Express' partner eye-to-eye on virtually every issue but insisted Bhupathi should put aside the difference keeping in mind the country's interest.
"I find it really silly. It is childish on his part because we are hurting ourselves in the process. At the end of the day, both of us are losers," Paes said, reacting to Bhupathi's e-mail to the All India Tennis Association in which he said he would prefer to team up with Rohan Bopanna, instead of Paes, in Beijing.
"It's unreasonable and ridiculous to claim that any other pair would do better than me and Mahesh," Paes said.
Bhupathi had said that there was no communication between him and Paes and with the pair not playing together on the ATP Tour, they are bound to reach Beijing under-prepared. In such a scenario, Bhupathi said he would prefer teaming up with Bopanna.
Paes held Bhupathi responsible for lack of any communication between them.
"I've always tried to communicate but it has always been a one-way communication. He has not communicated with me even once. He has communicated only through letters and e-mails to the AITA," he said.
The Davis Cup captain, however, asserted that India would have its best chance in Beijing if he and Bhupathi walk out in the middle together.
"There is no denying the fact that Mahesh and myself have difference of opinions on many issues off the court but it's equally true that whenever we played together, we were successful.
"When we play in an Olympic year, we put everything else aside. The biggest thrill for any athlete is to play for the country, regardless of difference of opinions," Paes said.
"Playing for the country is bigger than two individuals and that is something we cannot deny. We have eight years' experience of playing together, we were the number one pair, won Grand Slams. We make the best team India can field for an Olympic medal," he said.
Paes also contradicted Bhupathi's view that playing together in a few tournaments ahead of Olympics would prove more useful than practising together in a fortnight-long camp.
"Mahesh would like to play in a few tournaments, he has voiced this opinion to the AITA. I believe that for this very differences, if we lose in first or second round matches, it would leave us with just one or two matches.
"But if you put in 14 hard days of training, it would help not only our Olympic preparation but also for the Davis Cup. It would benefit the youngsters of the side as well," Paes explained.
Asked if he had another partner in mind in case Bhupathi eventually backs out, Paes said he hopes good sense would eventually prevail.
"I will urge Mahesh to reconsider his decision and come and communicate with me, sit and talk with me, so that we get to know what we want to do," Paes said.