Although this was meant to be posted on the lawntennis site, Paddy beat me to it. So i will post the article here.
Mirza to star in inaugural Asian Hopman Cup
23 November 2006, Mumbai
Sania Mirza will be playing in the inaugural Asian Hopman Cup starting today in her hometown of Hyderabad. She will be partnering Rohan Bopanna after Leander Paes’ pull out.
Leander Paes pulled out to regain fitness keeping in mind his participation in the Doha Asian Games. Paes had injured his index finger in the semifinals of the recently concluded Masters Cup in Shanghai.
There was much speculation and confusion regarding who Paes’ replacement would be in the six nation event starting on Thursday.
Various names like those of Rohan Bopanna, Karan Rastogi, Prakash Amritraj and Harsh Mankad were doing the rounds. Eventually AITA (All India Tennis Association) made the announcement on Tuesday that it would be Bopanna who will partner Sania.
Regarding Paes’ pullout Mirza said, “Paes has his own thoughts on it. (withdrawal). He has to take a lot of things into consideration. And I am sure he has taken a decision which is better for him.”
Mirza father Imran Mirza though chimed in with “Atleast she(Mirza) should have been informed about her playing partner.” He also added that India wouldn’t miss Paes as India would find winning two matches easy against the other Asian teams. He was equally forthright about Mahesh Bhupathi not being drafted in Leander’s place by saying, “Mahesh doesn’t play singles anymore and doesn’t fit into the Hopman Cup format.”
About the opposition he said, “China and Chinese Taipei would be tough opponents. The rest wouldn’t be of much trouble.”