Leander Paes will miss the Chennai Open ATP tennis tournament as the veteran Indian decides to go with the choice of his partner Martin Damm of the Czech Republic to play in the Doha Open, another ATP season opener played simultaneously from January 1 to 7.
"I had no option but to accede to my partner's decision to play in Doha Open," Paes, who had won the 2006 US Open Doubles title with Damm, said on Sunday.
This would be the only second time that Paes would be missing the Chennai event in the past 12 years, the previous occasion being in 2004 due to injury.
Paes, who had won four doubles titles here, including three on a row with Mahesh Bhupathi from 1997, said his mind would still be in Chennai where he grew up to be a star.
"It is not more prize money alone. I just want to maintain the partnership with Damm and looking for more accomplishment with him in 2007 with whom I started the last season here.
"Maybe there is more prize money (at Doha), but it comes only with your performance and my aim is only to improve upon my performance in 2006 partnering Damm."
Paes, winner of four Grand Slam doubles titles, including three with Bhupathi, said he also wanted to promote Indian tennis in the Asian region.
"Of course, Doha has a large number of Indian expatriates."
"I consider it as yet another opportunity for me, along with Damm to win the doubles title in Doha and take off from there for a memorable 2007 season," Paes said.
Paes and Damm came together at the Chennai Open last year as the top seeded pair but lost in the quarterfinals.
But they went on to win two ATP titles, including the US Open in September.
Paes, whose best performance in singles at Chennai Open was his semifinal loss to Patrick Rafter in 1998, said "I cannot forget Chennai, my home turf, and my friends. I am sure with Rafal Nadal and David Nalbandian coming to play here this time the tournament's calibere has gone up."
Paes, who won the gold for India in the recent Doha Asian Games partnering Bhupathi, said he was enthused by the support of the Indian expatriates.
He hoped that the Doha crowd would support him this time also like they did in the Asian Games.
He, however, reiterated that he would combine with Bhupathi to play for India.
"I always enjoyed playing with Mahesh for our country and I will continue."