Improving Asia looks to Paradorn and beyond
After every round that Asia number one Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand played at last week's Chennai Open, he was cheered off court like a home-grown hero.
Fans lustily responded to his post-match bow, even after he lost to Spain's world number five Carlos Moya in Sunday's final.
It was Paradorn's fourth straight final in Chennai, where tennis lovers treat him as their own.
Though the world number 27 is some way from being considered a potential grand slam winner, his role as the flag-bearer of Asian tennis makes him a hero throughout the region.
Paradorn, the first Asian to be ranked among the top 10 in the world when he was briefly placed ninth in 2003, feels it is his duty to be a mentor for emerging players from Asia.
"There aren't too many Asian players on the tour," he said. "So we always hang out together, practise together and exchange and give advice on what you should do.
"I always meet a lot of junior Asian players at the slams. Whenever I have a chance to talk to them, I always do that."