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Mumbai, 28 November, 2002: The Tata Open 2003 will feature a spectacular pairing in the doubles draw as Mahesh Bhupathi has confirmed that he will be teaming up with Mark Woodbridge to play doubles in the US $400,000 tournament. Together, this "Dream Team" has 100 ATP Doubles titles including a staggering 24 Grand Slam crowns.

"Todd is one of the greatest doubles players of all time, and I am excited about playing with him. The crowd in Chennai has always been great, and I'm looking forward to going for my fifth title here," said Mahesh, who is currently on his honeymoon

. "The pairing of Mahesh and Todd is truly historic," said Ravi Krishnan, Managing Director - IMG-TWI South Asia and Senior International Vice President - IMG. "Both have been World No. 1s, both have won multiple grand slam championships, both have beaten the world's best players, and both know how to really win matches. That makes them the team to beat, and it will be a pleasure to watch them go for the Tata Open 2003 doubles Championship," he added.

Mahesh Bhupathi, who finished the year ranked No. 4 in the world in the ATP doubles rankings and has 26 career ATP doubles titles, added a fifth Grand Slam crown to his already-bursting trophy showcase, when he won the US Open with Max Mirnyi (BLR) in August 2002. He has won four doubles titles in Chennai, winning his first ATP title back in 1997 with long-time partner Leander Paes. This year, Mahesh won five doubles titles in all, starting with the Tata Open. He also won on clay in Mallorca, Spain with Leander, following it up with his fifth TMS Shield when he won TMS Hamburg, Germany with American Jan-Michael Gambill. Mirnyi and Mahesh reached the semi-finals of the French Open, heralding the start of their successful 38-8 campaign, which included the Long Island and US Open crowns, besides being finalists in Queen's Club, TMS Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and TMS Madrid, and quarter-finalists at Wimbledon.

Todd Woodbridge, who is the "winningest" active doubles player in the world with 74 career titles, finished the year ranked No. 5 in the world in the ATP doubles rankings. Woodbridge had a historic partnership with countryman Mark Woodforde from 1991-2000, when they won 61 titles together, with 11 Grand Slams crowns including 5 straight Wimbledon Championships from 1993-97. In 2002, Todd added another Wimbledon doubles title, winning with Swede Jonas Bjorkman. The two played together for much of the year, also winning the doubles titles in Auckland, TMS Monte Carlo, and Bastad, with a quarter-final appearance in the French Open, and a semi-final appearance in the US Open. Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, who were affectionately nicknamed "the Woodies", played together in Chennai in 1998, losing in the quarter-finals. That year, Todd Woodbridge was also the second seed in the singles draw, reaching the semi-finals.

The US $400,000 Tata Open, owned and organised by IMG, is India and South Asia's only ATP International Series event, and one of only seven in all of Asia. The Tata Open will be held in Chennai for the seventh consecutive year from December 30, 2002 - January 5, 2003, and will feature top players including Mark Philippoussis, defending champion Guillermo Canas, last year's runner-up and world No. 16 Thai Paradorn Srichaphan, No. 1 Dutchman Sjeng Schalken, Juan Igancio Chela, who finished 23 in the ATP Champion's Race, and Tata Open 2002 semi-finalist Andrei Pavel. The doubles draw will feature a historic pairing of Mahesh Bhupathi and Todd Woodbridge, who together have 100 ATP doubles titles to their credit. The tournament is conducted under the aegis of the All India Tennis Association and is organised with the active collaboration of the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association, with assistance of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu. The event has been presented the ATP Award for Excellence twice and the award for the Best Promoted Tournament in the International Group over the past five years.
 

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Leander Paes, who had been offered the third wild card into the singles draw, has confirmed his participation in the Tata Open 2003 Tennis Championships, scheduled for December 30, 2002 - January 5, 2003 at Nungambakkam Tennis Stadium in Chennai. This is the first time in the history of the tournament that all three singles wild cards have been awarded to Indians. Leander Paes will also be pairing up with David Rikl (CZE), who is ranked No. 20 in the ATP Doubles rankings, for the doubles draw of the tournament.

"Of course I am going to play in the Tata Open 2003," said Leander Paes from Orlando, USA, where he is currently training for the upcoming season. "This is, after all, India's biggest and most prestigious tennis tournament, it is where my doubles career really took off, and I simply love playing in Chennai. I have played in all seven past editions of this tournament and have a fantastic rapport with Indian fans. I am looking forward to coming to India for the new year and continuing my relationship with IMG, the Tata Group and this premier event, and really having fun once again on home soil," he added.

Leander Paes has been the most successful Indian in singles play in the history of the event here in India. His most memorable tournament was in 1998, when he reached the semi-finals in Chennai, losing to eventual champion Patrick Rafter. Paes has also won four doubles titles in Chennai, all with long-time partner Mahesh Bhupathi, and has a total of 24 career doubles titles, including two titles (Chennai and Mallorca) in 2002.

David Rikl, the veteran Czech, is a doubles specialist, and has 26 career doubles titles to his credit, having won four doubles titles in 2002 - St. Poelten, Halle, Gstaad and the Stuttgart Outdoor. In 2001, he won three doubles titles in 2001, including the Ericsson Open in Miami and TMS Montreal, and finished the year at a career high No. 7 in the ATP Doubles rankings.
 
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