'We have learnt to live without Paes'

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/l/leanderpaes.jpg' class='caption'> His fans may be disappointed not to see Leander Paes in action at Chennai Open as he preferred Brisbane International over India's only ATP event, but the organ

Updated: January 02, 2010 16:01 IST
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New Delhi:

His fans may be disappointed not to see Leander Paes in action at Chennai Open as he preferred Brisbane International over India's only ATP event, but the organisers said they have learnt to live without India's most celebrated player.

Chennai Open, starting Monday, is now India's only ATP Tour event and it is the third time in four years that Paes has decided to skip the event.

The officials of the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA), which organises the event, are not expressing their disappointment openly and are relying on a strong singles field to pull crowds to the courts.

Speculations are rife that appearance money could be a factor in Paes' giving a miss to the USD 450,000 doubles event in Chennai.

"As far as we are concerned we have learnt to live without Leander. In 2009 he lost in the first round. In 2007 he did not come and did not turn up for 2008 event as well. So we have learnt to live without him," C B N Reddy, the TNTA secretary said.

Paes, winner of 10 Grand Slam titles, has said that he wants to play in Brisbane event to get used to the Australian conditions to give himself a better chance to win Australian Open men's doubles, the only title missing from his Major tally.

But Reddy said that Paes has not specified any reasons to them.

"He has not told us any reason. Only he can tell why he is not playing. Our representative personally contacted him and requested him to play. We would love to have him play here. But he did not. What do we do?

"We have a good singles draw and people would come and watch those players," Reddy said.

Paes and his Czech partner Lukas Dlouhy have been given the top billing at the Brisbane event.

Defending champion and world number 14 Marin Cilic, 2009 French Open finalist Robin Soderling of Sweden and India's own tennis star Somdev Devvarman are part of a solid singles draw.

P Karti Chidambaram, the Organising Commitee Chairman, said they made every effort to bring Paes to the Chennai Open "There is still time to sign up for the doubles by 6:00 pm today. May be he will sign up. But even in the past this tournament has gone on without him.

"I had a frank and fair discussion with him. He expressed his views and I expressed mine. I told him that this India's only ATP event and asked for his support," Chidambaram said without revealing the matter of discussion.

On being asked if appearance money was an issue, Chidambaram, who is also Vice President of the All India Tennis Association, refused to take the query.

"We would be happy to have him but can't do much. As orgainsers we try to bring good Indian players to the tournament," he said.

Reacting to Paes' reported reason of skipping the event, Chidambaram said, "Many players who are competing in Chennai would go and play in Australian Open."

Appearance money has been an issue in Indian tennis. In 2008 when Sania Mirza decided to skip WTA Bangalore Open to avoid being dragged into controversies, it was said that appearance money was a reason behind her decision.

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  • Tennis
  • Andy Roddick
  • Lukas Dlouhy
  • Rohan Bopanna
  • Leander Paes
  • Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi
  • Maria Sharapova

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