With Leander-Mahesh parting ways, the baton now rests on young guns of Indian tennis, writes Sonal Srivastava.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2006 16:10 IST

With both Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi pulling out of the Chennai Open, all eyes are now set on Prakash Amritraj. Well, it will not be a cake-walk for the young tennis champion. To make a mark in the $400,000 event, he will have to face the likes of Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian. A tough task? “Undoubtedly. Nadal is high on confidence and it will be tough to play against him,” says Prakash.

The sportsman has been battling a wrist injury which kept him off the courts for a while. The going will be tough but that does not deter him. The young tennis aficionado is elated to participate in the Chennai Open, for obvious reason: his grandparents still live in this city. “The Chennai Open is one event I look forward to. I will also get to meet my grandparents who live close to the venue,” says Prakash.

Pulling out of the Asian Games was one of the most disappointing moments for Prakash. “I was hoping to participate in the Asian Games. But Lee and Hesh did a fantastic job. It is unfortunate that they have split, they are great players, watching them play together is awesome.” His performance in the tennis circuit this year hasn’t been very encouraging to which he adds, “Tennis is a long journey, there are highs and lows. But eventually you get to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is all about maintaining balance and that’s what champions are made of.”

Prakash is optimistic about India’s future: “We can boast of some good players like Sanam Singh and Vivek Shokeen, who have done very well for themselves. But they still need more exposure, they need to travel and play in tournaments abroad which will make them better.” A pro’s advice to aspiring champions.

First Published: Dec 28, 2006 15:12 IST