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Vijay Amritraj

The tennis impressario assails Edberg, and continues to believe in Indian tennis

Vijay Amritraj
What role did you have in getting the Indian Open to Delhi?
I have been trying for four to five years to get an event into India. The only way to do that was to get enough challengers in here. That's what happened.

Is the Open here to stay?
It hasn't got permanent membership yet. The centre has to perform. But the tournament's got leeway because it's just the first year.

Do you like the stadium?
It looks just fantastic. A dramatic change.

Why has Leander Paes not had an impact on the ATP tour?
Actually, I'm surprised at his ranking. I firmly believe he belongs in the top 100. He needs to win his matches at the nets. You can teach people to play but not to win matches.

And Mahesh Bhupathi?
Bhupathi is slow. Every 10 per cent quicker he gets, he is going to be 50 per cent better. He has powerful groundstrokes though on both flanks and a big serve.

There is a general trend now of players avoiding the Davis Cup, especially in the US.
It depends more on the country than the individual. A Davis Cup draw in India usually features the Prime Minister. In the US, it's somewhere near the locker room. The greatest thing about the Cup is that it makes men out of boys.

Don't hard courts reduce the players' life span?
Yes. They shorten the player's career by 50 per cent. We could play 15-16 weeks at a stretch. Now it's just 2-3 weeks.

Why haven't we been drawing big crowds at the tournament?
I hope it will improve over the weekend. Actually, quite a bit of it had to do with the fact that the matches started at two instead of five. Nobody wants to come in the sun.

What do you think of Edberg's recent comments about playing in India?
I think they were uncalled for. For a player of his stature he has lost a lot of Indian friends.

You've had a history of unpleasantness with R.K. Khanna? Is it in the past?
Very much so.

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