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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Tennis

Bhupathi to continue for another season
Deepti Patwardhan, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, December 24, 2013
First Published: 00:35 IST(24/12/2013)
Last Updated: 00:37 IST(24/12/2013)

Tennis has opened up a number of avenues for Mahesh Bhupathi, but the Indian is now relying on the businessman in him to extend his tennis career.

The 39-year-old had earlier announced that 2013 would be his last year on tour, but figures he could push for another six months and call it quits after next year’s Wimbledon.

“The target is to try and make the cut for Wimbledon,” said Bhupathi in Mumbai on Sunday evening after the conclusion of the ITPA fund-raising event. The first Indian to win a Grand Slam – the 1998 French Open mixed doubles with Japan’s Rika Hiraki – and 14-time major champion, Bhupathi is currently busy with his pet project—the International Tennis Premier League, which is scheduled for January player auction in Melbourne.

“I don’t know my schedule for the year though,” added the player, who has slipped to 35 in the men’s doubles rankings after a difficult 2013 season.

“If I can play six tournaments this year I will be happy. I am anyway travelling for work. I had to go to Sydney for work; I had to go to Melbourne for four days of work. So I might as well play. Plus, I love the game.

“I am hoping to play in Dubai at least since I (with Michael Llodra) won the title last year and have to defend those points. I have to make enough points to make it to Wimbledon.”

The biggest challenge for the Indian veteran could be to find a partner to fit into his ad-hoc schedule.

“I am playing with Rajeev Ram in Melbourne, we’ll see after that.”

That he won the ITPA event, with Saketh Myneni, was a bonus, but Bhupathi was impressed with the number of upcoming players and the spirit within the group.

“You can’t ask for anything better,” said Bhupathi about the shift from the tennis set-up in the country that mainly only focused on him and Paes.

“With so many players coming in, it’s like a pyramid now. A lot of players are doing well and one of ITPA’s goals is to try and get them into the top-400 by the end of the year.”


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