Kolkata ready to host the reunion of stars

The "Masters Kolkata" will bring together the maestros of the sport who have taken the country on the international map with regular podium finishes in Grand Slams.

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, who are in the early 40s, bridge the age divide but provide the energy and thrust to the upcoming contest.   -  AP

A city that prides itself as the cradle of Indian tennis, having the oldest club in the country, South Club, has been chosen the first halt for a fantastic reunion bringing together tennis icons of the country. Leander Paes, the city own tennis icon, Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza and the legendary Martina Navratilova will be making a rare appearance together to start the three-leg Masters’ tennis tour, here at the Netaji Indoor Stadium on Wednesday.

The “Masters Kolkata” will bring together the maestros of the sport who have taken the country on the international map with regular podium finishes in Grand Slams. The event, which is a part of the International Premier Tennis League’s promotional tour conceived by Bhupathi, will give the tennis aficionados of the city the occasion to see the stars for the first time ever since the WTA tier III Sunfest Open had its last edition in 2007.

The tour – which will be seeing the four tennis aces play in Hyderabad and Delhi after the start in Kolkata on consecutive dates – is expected to offer a build up to the international League that is scheduled to start in Kobe, Japan on December 2. The contest, despite being played on a friendly note, is expected to revive the memory of the exploits of the two successful pairs and the tales surrounding their triumphs.

Current doubles World No. 1 Sania is the youngest of the four players at 29 while Navratilova, the owner of 18 singles Grand Slam titles, is the oldest and the most successful of them all at 59. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, who are in the early 40s, bridge the age divide but provide the energy and thrust to the upcoming contest. Bhupathi, who won the Australian and French Open titles with Sania, will be reviving the partnership while Paes, who won two Slam titles (Australian and Wimbledon) and became runner-up twice with Martina, will be teaming up with the legendary women’s tennis player almost after a decade. This reunion will also see the coming together of Paes and Bhupathi, though on opposing courts, reliving the times when the two made history getting the country’s name on the Slams’ roll of honour winning the French Open and the Wimbledon in 1999.