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Srichaphan aims for consistency

January 05, 2004 08:41 IST

Asia's top player Paradorn Srichaphan defends his title at the ATP Indian Open, which starts on Monday, hoping that it will herald a period of consistency.

The 24-year-old Thai achieved the goal he set himself in 2003 when he became the first Asian to break into the world's top 10, reaching number nine in May before finishing the year in 11th.

"I'm not aiming to be in the top five or higher, but I want to play consistently and then wait for the right time to break through," Srichaphan said on Sunday in Madras.

The Thai has a modest record in the Grand Slam tournaments with a best of fourth round appearances at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2003, something else he is aiming to improve.

"Reaching the second week of every Grand Slam, that's my goal for this year," he said. "You have to play well for two weeks and its tough from the first round, so if I can survive that long, then anything can happen."

Srichaphan, who had a poor run in the 2003 European clay court events, said he would also be focussing on the U.S. hardcourt circuit and on qualifying for the year-ending Masters Cup, reserved for the top eight in the ATP Champions Race.

TITLE FAVOURITE

The Thai, seeded second in Madras behind Spain's Carlos Moya, starts favourite for the title which he won without dropping a set last year.

He faces Albert Montanes of Spain in the first round.

Moya, the 1998 French Open champion whose injury-hit career has revived in the last two years, will face a qualifier in the first round on Tuesday.

The tournament misses its biggest draw after India's Leander Paes delayed his return from a layoff for treatment for a non-malignant brain lesion.

Organisers said the nine-year-old annual event, South Asia's only ATP tournament, faces uncertainty due to sponsorship problems and could be shifted to another Indian venue or even be scrapped.

"We are evaluating our options. The tournament can't run without financial support," said Ravi Krishnan, a senior official with IMG, which runs the event.

Chennai has hosted the Indian Open since it moved out of New Delhi in 1997.


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