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Bhupathi for Paes touch

Chennai: Mahesh Bhupathi indicated on Thursday he was keen to pair up with Leander Paes for the 2004 ATP Tata Open to be played here from January 5 to 11, as also a few other events during the year.

“I am not sure yet about Paes’ availability. I have already talked to him and awaiting a reply. If he is healthy, it is good to play with him as we want to have a few matches together before the Athens Olympics,” he said.

[Paes, contacted on his mobile, said he hadn’t yet decided on his partner for the Chennai meet. “I’ll make the decision in the next few days,” he informed.]

Bhupathi, however, made it clear he will continue his partnership with Max Mirnyi of Belarus. “I will be playing most of next year with Mirnyi and only a few matches with Paes.”

He added that Mirnyi was never an option for the Tata Open and that he has no back-up if Paes doesn’t play.

Bhupathi felt the last season has been quite good, with he and Mirnyi finishing No. 2. “It was a great year. We reached 10 finals, though it was a little disappointing not to have won a Grand Slam.”

Stating that the pair came close to the Wimbledon title, Bhupathi said he was looking forward to start the next year on a winning note.

The doubles specialist said the field for the Tata Open was a good mix of youth and experience.

“Definitely good to be back in Chennai. I am excited about the strong field. The players come for the first tournament of the season and they will like to start with a win,” Bhupathi, who combined with Todd Woodbridge of Australia and lost in the semis last year, said. (PTI)

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