Leander, Mahesh to delight home crowds again in Chennai Open

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Chennai, Nov 3 (UNI) After a gap of three years, crowd favourites and ace Indian stars Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will be seen in action on the courts of the Nungambakkam tennis stadium here in the 450,000 US dollar Prize Money Chennai Open ATP tennis championships to be held here from January five to 11 next year.

Both Leander and Mahesh would figure in the doubles event . But with their respective partners Lucas Dlouhy (Czech) and Mark Knowles (Bahamas).

The World No 3 pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles have become a formidable combination and they recently won the ATP Swiss Indoor Championships defeating Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.

The ATP Doubles World No 6 pair of Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy who teamed up for the first time after Roland Garros 2008, have also struck good partnership and they won their first ATP title together at the Thailand Open 2008 at Bangkok.

Leander had missed Chennai Open only thrice so far in the last 14 years -- missed in 2004 due to injury and in 2007-08, due to prior commitments at Doha. Mahesh Bhupathi would be returning to Chennai Open after 2005, having missed the tournament due to injury and prior commitments in previous years.

This would be the first time since 2005 that the two players would be coming face to face with each other. The last time they played with different partners here was in the 2005 edition when Mahesh partnered Bjorkman and Leander paired with Nenad Zimonjic.

Leander Peas said, ''It's always great to come back to Chennai and be part of the Chennai Open. I am glad to return to the city where I have grown up and to play in front of a crowd that's always been of great support to me. Lukas and I have had a phenomenal year and we hope to have a great start to the New Year. A fith Chennai Open title would be a dream start for 2009'', he added.

Equally excited to be back in Chennai, Mahesh Bhupathi said ''Mark and I have had a great year and were looking forward to kick-start the New year with a big week at the Chennai Open.'' The fairytale run of the two celebrated stars started in Chennai when they won three successive titles from 1997 to 99 and had become the World Number One pair, before they parted ways.

UNI GV AB HT1828

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