Tennis team confident of winning medals at CWG

October 3rd, 2010 - 12:24 am ICT by IANS  

Somdev Devvarman New Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) The Indian men’s tennis team was an excited lot as they practised and indulged in light-hearted banter during a brief session at the R.K. Khanna stadium here Saturday evening.

Somdev Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi arrived here in afternoon for the Commonwealth Games which begins Sunday. Leander Paes will join the team Sunday morning. The team practiced for nearly 40 minutes under the floodlights.

Somdev tuned for the Commonwealth Games by winning a 64,000 euros challenger on the hard courts of Turkey while Bopanna decided to take some time off to rest at home. He, however, had a few practice session with Somdev at Bangalore before the latter took off for Turkey.

Bopanna and Somdev are seeded second at the Games and face a tough challenge from the Scottish pair Jamie Murray, Andy’s brother, and Colin Fleming.

Bhupathi and Paes, on the other hand, are seeded first and face Sri Lanka’s Ruchika Amresh Jayawickreme and Thangarajah Dineshkanthan in the first round.

They however, crashed out of the first round of the Thai Open in Bangkok where the former doubles pair participated to warm-up for the Games.

Bhupathi said they are not being complacent. “We saw what happened in Bangkok, we were the top seeds and lost. In tennis, nothing can be taken for granted.

“The target is to win a lot of medals. It is great that tennis is making its debut at the Games at home. It will be exciting to be a part of it.”

Asked about the new rebound ace courts, which are known to increase the risk of injury in the hot weather, at the stadium, Bhupathi said: “It is just the way we had expected, the bounce is high. Otherwise we have no problems. We have all played in the Australian Open and none of us were injured, so I don’t think it would be a problem.”

Somdev, who is ranked 100, and top seeded at the Games is confident of his chances to win the gold. He plays Devin Mullings of Bahamas in the first round.

“I have not seen the draw. There will be a lot of good seeded and unseeded players. In the first round, I play a guy whom I lost in 2003 in college, so yeah, it was a long time back. I feel if I give my best, I will have my chances in the Games,” he said.

The players have stationed at the Games Village but are yet to explore it. Bopanna was the only one to taste the delectable fare at Village.

Bopanna and Nirupama Sanjeev face a tricky mixed doubles first round against top seeded Australians Anastasia Rodionova and Paul Hanley. But Bopanna is unfazed. “If we have to win, then we need to beat every team,” he said.

The players practised under the floodlights and had to endure swarming insects. “Yeah, we had a taste of them,” Bhupathi quipped.

“But that should not be a problem. We can deal with it.”

England tennis coach Colin Beecher while admitting that the insects could be a problem, decided not to make an issue of it. “Yeah, it can be a problem but we have to deal with it. It should not be such a big problem,” Beecher said.

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