Chennai: They are a formidable pair when they share the same side of the court but since they are joining forces after nine long years on the ATP circuit, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi do not want to make tall promises.
Paes and Bhupathi decided to return as a team at Chennai Open, hoping this reunion would help them prepare well and win Australian Open, the only Grand Slam trophy missing from their cupboard.
"Chennai has always been a special place for me and Mahesh. We won four doubles titles here besides me reaching the semifinals in singles. We are taking it match by match and haven`t set any targets as such".
"We need to find rhythm, focus and get into the groove. The first tournament is always important," Paes said.
Apart from Paes and Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman, Sanam Singh, Rohan Bopanna, Vishnu Vardhan and Divij Sharan are also in the fray in the doubles. Somdev, Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri are also in fray in the singles competition.
Paes is extremely pleased with strong Indian presence at the home event.
"It is good to see so many Indians on the grid, unlike the times when we were playing," said Paes. "There were just two or three of us. This time round, the circuit is also tight and hence would be interesting to see how the Indians fare against some of the best in the world."
Asked how Somdev would fare in the 2011 season, the 12-time Grand Slam winner said he expects him to play well.
"I don`t know whether he can replicate his 2009 performance, for there has been enormous pressure on him after he reached the (Chennai Open) finals then. And it is never easy coming back and replicating it every year".
"I also underwent the same when I came back the year after I had reached the singles semifinals," he said.
The Lee-Hesh pair could face the Indo-Pak duo of Bopanna/ Aisam-ul-haw Qureshi in doubles final if both pairs stay true to their first and second seedings. But Paes said such a scenario was too further down the line.
"They have been shaping up well, but frankly we haven`t thought much about the match. We have two-three matches before that. And since everyone`s returning after a lay-off, we have to be careful. In the past, there have been a lot of upsets in the tournament," he said.