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    Jun 2009
    Spain BCN (Barcelona)

    Default Vijay Amritraj, not invited to draw, 'not upset'

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    Apparently, there is more to Vijay Amritraj's absence during the draw ceremony of the Aircel Chennai Open tennis tournament here Saturday than meets the eye. But the Indian icon himself sought to play down speculations and rumours that generated media interest while confirming that he was not invited to the function.

    The fact that the 56-year-old Amritraj, who lives just down the road from the tennis stadium, conducted his interaction with the media Sunday under a tree in the stadium car park, spoke far more than he did during his nearly 30-minute "chat" with the journalists.

    Yet, if Amritraj, who in 2006 was appointed "Messenger of Peace" by the United Nations, felt any discomfort at all, he did not show it. Rather, he was at his diplomatic best.

    Stating that his absence at the draw ceremony was because he did not figure in the list of invitees, Amritraj said: "In many people eyes, I would be a mascot of this event since I was responsible in its success all these years. Even now, I consider very lucky to have been associated with this tournament and take pride in the fact that it has been a great success."

    "Obviously, I was not invited by the Organising committee for the draw. I do not expect to be. I was there in the tournament more as a face in the tournament and it helped. Maybe, a lot of things I do does not help."

    Asked whether he was upset for not being invited, he said: "Very few things upset me. I am going to give television commentary. If they want me to do anything, I am willing to do. IMG (owners of the tournament) has a list of work to be done by me and I am going to do that. I hope that all our sponsors are happy and that is the key element to make this event a success."

    Amritraj emphasized that he was not unhappy that son Prakash did not receive a wild card entry into the main draw.

    "Absolutely not. My brief to the TNTA (Tamil Nadu Tennis Association) was very simple. I had told them months before that if Somdev (Devvarman) was getting into the main draw based on his ranking and (Carlos) Moya was getting a wild card, then Yuki (Bhambri) should be the next in line for it. That was my recommendation to the TNTA," he said.

    However, the organisers preferred 29-year old Davis Cupper Rohan Bopanna ahead of 17-year old Bhambri, the 2009 Australian Open junior champion, who is at present playing in the qualifying tournament.

    Amritraj also stressed that he had no truck with either organising committee chairman Karti P. Chidambaram, who is also the vice-president of All-India Tennis Association, or the TNTA, but was willing to do anything for the success of the Chennai Open.

    "I have no difference of opinion with Karti (Chidambaram) or anyone. My pick on this is only that I always wanted Chennai, where I was born, to be in the limelight and it is my commitment to the TNTA to do my best towards this goal."

    "I had functioned as non-executive chairman of the Organising committee. If the committee requires my services in whatever capacity, I will always be available. If they ask for my guidance, I am there 24/7."


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