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Leander set for Aussie odyssey

Calcutta: The Australian summer will have an unmistakable Indian flavour.

Around the time Anil Kumble and his men begin their battle to topple the champions in their own den, Leander Paes will launch Mission 2008 in tandem with an Australian — Paul Hanley. The cricketers’ task will be decidedly tough, but the tennis ace’s job will be no less challenging.

“I am very excited about the new season… really looking forward to playing with a younger partner,” Paes told The Telegraph on Tuesday. The 34-year-old doubles specialist has just completed a two-year association with experienced Czech Martin Damm, with whom he won the 2006 US Open. Hanley is four years younger than Paes.

This is the first time Paes will be starting an ATP season Down Under. Chennai had been his favoured choice for many years, before he opted for Doha last season (with Damm). It’s a different destination this time, because his partner is from Australia.

“We’ll be working together from end-December and playing the Australian circuit culminating in the Grand Slam in Melbourne,” said Paes, who was in the city for a day.

The Davis Cup captain will be flying to Australia on December 26. “We’ll be working with Paul’s cousin Ty Hanley, a physical instructor attached with the Australian institute of Sport… Our first tournament will be in Adelaide, followed by Sydney and the Australian Open,” said Paes.

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