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Leander Paes is an entertainer: Mahesh Bhupathi

Mahesh Bhupathi confident of ITPL success through Paes' participation

Mahesh Bhupathi, founder-cum-managing director of the International Premier Tennis League (ITPL) stressed yesterday that his erstwhile partner Leander Paes is not just an asset to the nation, but to the League as well.

International Premier Tennis League founder and MD Mahesh Bhupathi during a promotional event in Mumbai yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
International Premier Tennis League founder and MD Mahesh Bhupathi during a promotional event in Mumbai yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
International Premier Tennis League founder and MD Mahesh Bhupathi during a promotional event in Mumbai yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK

"Leander loves playing on the big stage as we have always seen. As far as the Rio Olympics is concerned, we have a good chance of winning a medal in men's doubles and mixed doubles. Rohan (Bopanna) and Leander are both world-class players and in the mixed doubles, he is expected to partner Sania Mirza, the world's top woman doubles player," said Bhupathi, of Leander who is to set to play for the new ITPL franchise Japan Warriors.

The Arjuna awardee called the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bronze medallist an entertainer. "He (Leander) is an entertainer. I am sure playing in front of a full house every night is going to be exciting. He has been very successful in this format.

He has won World Team Tennis (WTT) five years in a row so I think he knows what's it is all about," said Bhupathi, a former Davis Cup doubles specialist at a media conference to announce a host of developments with regards to the League — roping in Spaniard Rafael Nadal for defending champions team Micromax Indian Aces, prize money for the runner-up teams and tickets for corporate boxes that will go on sale from November 13.

What a pair!
The 41-year-old said that the women's doubles World No 1 pair of Sania Mirza and Swiss Martina Hingis complement each other and that's the reason they won nine doubles titles this year, including Wimbledon, US Open and season-ending WTA finals. "Inspirational, if I have to sum up in one word (about Saina's performance).

She has really worked hard over the last three years, not only this year, putting herself in positions to win finals of Grand Slams. Martina and she complement each other perfectly. I think they are going to win many Grand Slams over the next two years," he said. Meanwhile, Indian Aces team co-owner Gulshan Jhurani said that though the league did draw in crowds in Delhi, they are considering having the league in cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru in the near future.

"We want to take it (league) to different cities in India. In Mumbai, the best option would be the NSCI (indoor stadium), which has a capacity of less than one third of that of Delhi. In that case we may have to raise the ticket prices," he said.

The second season of the five-team league will be played in Japan (December 2-4), Philippines (December 6-8), India (Delhi, December10-12), UAE (December 14-16) and Singapore (December 18 and 19) followed by the final on December 20.

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