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Lee-Hesh absence disappoints Amritraj

Chennai, Dec 31 (UNI) Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj today rued the absence of celebrity duo Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in the Chennai Open ATP World Tour Tennis tournament, which began here today.

When asked about the absence of the famous Indian pair in the tournament, on the sidelines of a launch function here, Vijay, parrying the question, said ''every Indian player should support a major event like this.'' The country comes first in events like Davis Cup and Federation Cup, Vijay, who was instrumental in bringing this prestigious event to Chennai, said.

''When you play for your country with Indian flags around, there is no substitute,'' he said and added that in events like this, every player should extend their support.

It may be recalled that the fairytale run of Lee-Hesh began in the Chennai Open with three successive title wins from 1997 to 1999 and the duo became the world number one doubles pair by winning three of the four grand slams in a year.

Though the duo teamed up again in the 2001 edition, they lost in the quarter-finals to wild card pair Barry Cowan and Mose Navarra before regaining the title in 2002.

However, differences cropped up between them leading to their separation while they teamed up only for the Olympics and Davis Cup.

Both the players played with different partners in the 2003 edition, but did not enter the final.

Mahesh Bhupathi last played in the tournament in 2005 by pairing with Swedish Jonas Bjorkman and finished runners up.

Leander and his new partner Martin Damm lost in the second round of the 2006 edition.


Story first published: Monday, December 31, 2007, 18:04 [IST]
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