Sania, Paes-Bhupathi handed a tough draw (LEAD)August 7th, 2008 - 6:16 pm ICT by IANS
By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 7 (IANS) Eyeing a medal from the high-profile tennis event at the Beijing Olympics, India were handed a tough draw Thursday. The country’s top women’s star Sania Mirza and the men’s doubles pair, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, may well make it past the first round, but will then need to come up with something special to make a podium finish in the discipline which gets underway Monday. Despite being seeded, Sania would be up against tough opponents early in the women’s singles contest. Similar is the fate of the crack men’s doubles combination of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi.
Sania, still struggling with injury woes, has slipped to 60th in world rankings. On paper, she may have an easy first round opponent in Czech Iveta Benesova, but if the Indian wins the first round, she runs into the 2000 Olympic champion and Wimbledon title holder Venus Williams in the second round. Venus will play Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland in the first round.
Seeded seventh, Venus is probably one of the most formidable players on the circuit, who in Sydney won two gold medals, the second with sister, Serena, in women’s doubles. Serena is the fourth seed in Beijing and the sisters are second seeds in doubles.
Paes, one of the only two players to appear in a fifth Olympic Games, and Bhupathi will face the hugely talented Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon of France in the opening round. Though the Indians are seeded seventh, the 22-year-old Monfils this season has shown that he is a rising star, having reached the semi-finals of the French Open.
The six-foot-four Monfils first hit the spotlight in 2004 by winning three of the junior Grand Slam events - he lost in the third round of the US Open due to injury. A big serving player, his service style is often compared to Andy Roddick.
Should the Indians win the first round, they could run into Czech pair, Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek, both very good doubles players. Also in the same second quarter is the Swiss pair Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka.
The top quarter has American twins Bob and Mike Bryan as top seeds and Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo as fourth seeds.
Paes and Bhupathi, relying more on memory for their fabled on-court chemistry, have hardly played together in the last few years. There were times when it looked as if they might even have to forego a chance to play at the Olympics, so strong was the acrimony between them.
It took several parties, including All India Tennis Association (AITA) and even tennis writers in either camp, to broker peace and they agreed to play a couple of tournaments together in the run-up to the Games. The duo showed glimpses of their old partnership as they reached the finals of the ATP tournament in s-Hertogenbosch.
But now the big question is if they will be able to replicate that at the Olympic Games.
The Indian pair set world tennis alight in 1999, reaching all four Grand Slam finals. But a year later they split because of personal problems. Since then, they have combined only in Olympic Games, Asian Games and Davis Cup. On the ATP Tour, they have played with different partners, even as a billion fans in India wished they sink their differences to play together.
Such has been the break-up, that the media is often replete with stories of their utter dislike and disgust for each other.
In women’s doubles, Sania Mirza and Sunitha Rao will meet the French pair of Tatiana Golovin and Pauline Parmentier and should the Indians win, they are likely to face top seeded Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina.
In the 20 years since tennis returned to the Olympic Games, the Beijing field is the strongest ever with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal heading the men’s competition.
In the women’s section, eight of the top nine players - barring the injured Maria Sharapova - will be seen in action, with world number one and two Serbs Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, besides the Williams sisters, being among the top contenders.
Interestingly, the women’s competition also includes the 1996 singles champion, Lindsay Davenport of the US.
- Sania, Somdev get wild card; 7 Indians for Olympic tennis (Lead) - Jun 27, 2012
- French title will not get Sania-Bhupathi London ticket - Jun 08, 2012
- Wimbledon: Sania-Elena seeded fourth, Paes-Bhupathi third - Jun 15, 2011
- Sania tears apart AITA, doesn't spare Paes and Bhupathi (Lead) - Jun 27, 2012
- AITA rejects Sania's claims, says team selected on merit - Jun 27, 2012
- Paes serves a threat, AITA defers Olympics selection (Roundup) - Jun 20, 2012
- French Open: Bhupathi-Bopanna seeded 6th, Paes-Peya 7th - May 28, 2012
- Paes threatens to withdraw from Olympics - Jun 20, 2012
- Only wildcard can revive Sania's Olympic hopes - Jun 11, 2012
- Sonia, Somdev get wild card entry for London Olympics - Jun 26, 2012
- Sania slams Paes for demanding 'written assurances' - Jun 27, 2012
- Vece Paes slams AITA's decision - Jun 21, 2012
- Paes to partner Bhupathi at London Olympics (Lead) - Jun 15, 2012
- Bhupathi-Bopanna shocked in French Open first round - May 31, 2012
- Paes in mixed quarters, beaten in men's doubles (Roundup) - Jun 03, 2012
Tags: andy roddick, beijing olympics, gilles simon, gold medals, grand slam events, injury woes, iveta benesova, krishnaswamy, leander paes, mahesh bhupathi, monfils, olympic champion, paes bhupathi, radek stepanek, sania mirza, service style, sister serena, tennis event, timea bacsinszky, tomas berdych