No Croats please, Paes can relax (Olympic Diary)

August 13th, 2008 - 8:52 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Abhinav Bindra
By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 13 (IANS) Leander Paes need not look over his shoulder for any more Croatian players. Pray why, one may ask. It’s simple. The last two times Paes made the quarterfinals of the men’s doubles at the Olympic Games - in 1992 and in 2004 - his medal, in a manner of speaking, was snatched by a Croatian pair. In 1992, Paes and Ramesh Krishnan lost in four sets to Goran Ivanisevic and Goran Prpic after beating a highly rated Todd Woodbridge and John Fitzgerald en route to the quarters.

In 2004, Paes and Bhupathi lost the semis to Nicolas Keifer and Rainier Schuettler of Germany and then in bronze play-off they were beaten by Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic, again a Croatian pair.

This time around, there were Croats in the doubles!


Saina, poised even in defeat

Poised even in defeat that must have been surely hurting her, Saina Nehwal is a star for the future. The 18-year-old shuttler making her Olympic debut, won over everybody with a sensational upset win over fourth seed Wang Chen of Hong Kong in the pre-quarters.

That led to the entire Indian officialdom making a beeline for her quarterfinal match early Wednesday morning at the badminton venue, which was almost an hour from the Olympic Village.

Unfortunately, Saina lost the match despite a great first game win at 28-26 and then after leading 11-3 in the decider against Marie Kristin Yulianti of Indonesia.

She gave no excuses and admitted that some errors at crucial stages and failure to realise the draft was affecting her judgments. “I was leaving them for long (beyond the baseline) but they fell inside because the wind had slowed the bird,” she said.

Later, when one of the radio journalists said her entire interview had got messed up in the recorder, she came back to the interview yet again.

Hey, this girl is a class act! And one sure to graduate into the Rajyavardhan Rathore category.


Everybody wants a piece of Bindra

Regardless of what he says, life is not going to be the same for Abhinav Bindra. Everybody wants a piece of him.

Just as he was planning to leave for India, Omega convinced him to drop into their pavilion and right on cue, the company informed the media, which only needed a wind of it to land there.

Bindra was presented with a limited edition watch and shown around. But the media was more interested in getting a few more quotes.

Still speaking in his trademark staccato style, he admitted the feeling is “only starting to sink in.” He admitted he has not had much contact with friends and family in India. “I think it’s still a bit unreal to all of us.”

On whether he has been able to sleep, he added: “I’ve been sleeping well enough. But when this is all over, I think I’ll be able to sleep for a week.”

Having watched a little bit after his own event, Bindra leaves for home tonight.


A record and a doping rap

Marcelo Melo, who with his partner Andre Sa, was blown off the court by Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, has two rather well known incidents against his name.

First, last year he and Sa were engaged in a double matches lasting six hours and 13 minutes, making it the longest match at Wimbledon beating the 1968 singles clash between Pancho Gonzalez and Charlie Pasarell, which lasted five hours and 12 minutes.

Last year itself, Melo was also banned for two months for testing positive for the stimulant isometheptene at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament at Queen’s Club. The ban, usually two years, was reduced because the International Tennis Federation ruled that Melo did not take the substance to “enhance his sporting performance.” But he did forfeit his prize money.



This one is yet again about Paes and his sense of humour. Asked why he was conversing with his partner in Hindi during the match, Paes, with tongue firmly in his cheek, said: “No, we talk in English so that the other pair can understand.” And then immediately burst out laughing.

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