Indian tennis stars Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have decided to play against each other in the doubles tournament at the US $400,000 ATP Tour Chennai Open, scheduled to be held from January 3 to 9.
The duo's participation in the only ATP event in India will be a big draw although whom they will partner has not been revealed.
In the singles, former champions and last year finalists Carlos Moya of Spain and Paradorn Srichappan of Thailand are among the 24 direct entrants.
Paes and Bhupathi rose to stardom after their first doubles title on the world tour at the Gold
Flake Open in Chennai in 1997. The pair went to win the title for the next two years before parting ways.
The qualifiers to spot five players for the main draw will be held on January 1 and 2 and two of the three wild cards would be extended to top Indian players.
Qualifying matches, if necessary, for the doubles (main draw of 16) will also be held.
IMG South Asia managing director Ravi Krishnan said Bhupathi, now holidaying in New York, has confirmed participation in the doubles but kept the name of his partner a secret.
It is likely that Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden could pair with either Paes or Bhupathi. The Swede, who will be making his first appearance in the tournament, had partnered both players in tournaments this year.
V Narayanan, president of the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association, told a press conference on Thursday that the tournament would be called the Chennai Open from this year, for the next five years.
Chennai thus joins other important venues having international tour events named after them.
"This would thereby increase its visibility and stature," he said.
There are two categories of sponsors for the event. The Tamil Nadu government, Indian Bank, Indian Oil, Indian Overseas Bank and United India Insurance have paid Rs ten million each and are termed platinum sponsors.
Chennai Petroleum, Larsen and Tubro, Murugappa Group, Saint-Gobin, Steel Atuhority of India and Sundaram Finance, the other sponsors, fall under the gold category (Rs five million bracket).