Only two Indians in the fray | sports | Hindustan Times
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Only two Indians in the fray

We have more tournaments than players — that's been the underlining thought about Indian tennis in recent times, reports K Kumaraswamy.

sports Updated: Dec 30, 2007 23:12 IST
K Kumaraswamy

We have more tournaments than players — that's been the underlining thought about Indian tennis in recent times. The ATP and the WTA tours put together, the country now has four tournaments with world-class player field, whereas the number of quality players the country has unearthed in recent years has been half of that. Or, perhaps, even less. We are not talking about Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, who have been around for more a decade and a half now.

So, it should be no wonder that the 2008 Chennai Open, which starts on Monday, has only two Indians — both widlcards — in the main draw. None of the 17 who entered the qualifying made it past the second round, leaving Prakash Amritraj and Vishnu Vardhan with the burden of carrying the Tricolour. Paes and Bhupathi have opted to play elsewhere with their respective partners due to commitments and it would not be fair to have expected Rohan Bopanna to turn down the invitation to play alongside Sania Mirza at the Hopman Cup.

Amritraj, 24, chose to look at the situation positively, though. "Whether it is two or five Indians, the crowd is always behind you. And if we are the only two, then we are going to get all the crowd support," the US-based Indian said. Amritraj will play a qualifier in the first round, but it won't be easy since he is coming back from a surgery. "It is more of a mental thing. You must be able to focus," he said. "I will try and use my past experience.

Rafael Nadal, Marcos Baghdatis and Carlos Moya the top three seeds in that order, will be the players to watch out for although Belgian Xavier Malisse is the defending champion. Malisse, who won both the singles and doubles (with Dick Norman) titles here in 2007, suffered a wrist injury in February and returned to the courts at the US Open.