Indian tennis stars hoping to rise at Rio

Indian tennis stars hoping to rise at Rio 

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 5 (IANS) With three established though squabbling players of the professional tennis circuit in its ranks, India hopes to bag at least a medal in this discipline at the Rio Olympics.

India’s biggest so far contingent to Olympics this year is raising expectations of the largest medals haul at the summer Games — and tennis will naturally be keenly followed back home with expectations of podium finishes.

India will compete in three categories — Leander Paes-Rohan Bopanna in the men’s doubles, Sania Mirza-Prarthana Thombare in the women’s doubles, and Bopanna-Sania in the mixed doubles.

India won six medals at the London Games in 2012, their best haul so far at the Olympics, but none in tennis.

India’s overall unimpressive record at the Olympics is in sync with its poor haul in tennis of just an individual bronze (by Paes in singles at Atlanta 1996).

Paes, India’s grand old Olympics statesman, in his record setting seventh appearance, is still very much around and will be rubbing shoulders with a younger Bopanna in men’s doubles.

The 43-year-old will dearly love to bow out of the international stage with another medal on his burgeoning trophy cabinet.

But he has long ceased to be a singles star on the professional circuit and Davis Cup that helped him win bronze at Atlanta.

He now needs help from Bopanna, currently India’s best ranked men’s doubles player on the pro circuit at No.15, for a glittering swansong after failing with Ramesh Krishnan in 1992 and Mahesh Bhupathi in 2004 in bronze medal matches.

But Paes-Bopanna’s worries are more for each other than their opponents. Their mutual dislike is well documented, Bopanna even going to the extent of preferring to partner lower-ranked Saketh Myneni instead of Paes.

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) intervention ensured a timely avoidance of another full blown war ala London 2012 that ruined medal hopes.

Mirza also poured salt to injury by stating in her recently-released autobiography that she was used as a pawn by AITA in the Paes-Bhupathi-Bopanna saga.

Seasoned campaigners like Paes, Bopanna are expected to keep their personal egos and petty squabbles aside to be at their premium for the country. But it is easier said than done.

They also lack match practice though they played together in the Davis Cup tie against South Korea in July in Chandigarh.

Paes has been a dwindling force in men’s doubles for over a year, dropping out of the top 50 rankings that pegged India’s doubles team at the 15th position.

They will face Poland’s Marcin Matkowski and Lukas Kubot in the first round on Saturday.

Sania’s pairing with Bopanna offers more hope. They are known to enjoy friendly relations on and off the court and their contrasting styles of play could be also be an advantage.

In the women’s doubles, the inexperienced Sania-Prarthana play against China’s Peng Shuai and Shuai Zhang in the first round.


  1. I have been observing Sania Mirza’s tennis career from the time the media created hype and hoopla by entry into tennis single. Prime Minister and Sports Minister permitted her in their offices. Politicians, corporate houses, sports loving public, etc., instead of having the patience to wait, watch and see how she fares in singles, raised her to the sky. She has been given land, money, awards and generous dose of accolades. If my memory serves me right, when she was still a teenager, a corporate house or some institution had roped her in to speak on safe sex. Does it not sound stupid and farcical, why a celebrity sportsperson who was still in her teens being roped in to speak about safe sex?

    She continued representing India in tennis and earning pots of money by cashing in on the stupidity of the sports authorities and powers-that-be who failed to realize that this lady was playing singles and perpetually losing out in first, second or third rounds and never surviving till the finals to win the cup or atleast end as a runner up.

    Then, she played a wise tactical move by not playing singles from thence and started playing mixed doubles or doubles by pairing with accomplished stars. In female doubles, she partnered with a highly accomplished star who has left her footprints in the single games, namely Martina Hingis and she (Sania Mirza) acts as she is a doubles No. 1, without revealing the facts thst it ie Martina Hingis, who is instrumental in winning (and not she, who has a perpetual failure in singles).

    Martina Hingis has spent 209 weeks as World’s No. 1 in Single competitions and has won five grand slam titles, apart from her achievements in doubles and mixed doubles. With such impeccable records, Sania Mirza is not a comparison and a mere shadow.

    From 2003, until Sania Mirza’s retirement from singles in 2013, she peaked to No. 27 (in 2007). She was nowhere at the top in singles, which really matters.

    She displayed her loyalty by marrying a Pakistani cricketer, Shoaib Malik, who, if I recall correctly, when India defeated Pakistan in T20, probably in September 2007 and was called up to say a few words and he began by saying, “First, let me congratulate the Pakistani team and their compatriots across the border on a great performance – just one shot in the end made the difference in a game which could have gone either way. Let me also state that I have the greatest respect for Islam, as for any religion, and harbour no ill-will towards Pakistan or Pakistanis,” and then then he went on to answer the interviewer’s queries.

    With such mentalities that most Pakistanis harbour (rather than having an open-mind), their country has become a factory and haven for terrorists, a nationalilty that can lie through their teeth and has sunk into abysmal depths. When one is playing a game, when there is one winner and a loser (or losers), it should be played in a true spirit, without dragging religion into it.

    Sania Mirza puts on a Western accent, suffers from attitude problem and is arrogant.

    I highly admire Saina Nehwal, a fellow Hyderabadi, who has created a storm in the world of badminton by being World No. 1 on a number of occasions, but none of our powers-that-be have given her due recognition.

  2. Very good observations by Nelson Lewis on a highly overrated ‘star’ from Hyderabad and her husband from a neighboring country. Nelson is also 100% right in his observations on a specific group and the bad habit of mixing religion into everything!!! It doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to see this reality. But it takes courage and honesty to admit these facts. This is precisely why our ‘journalists’ in ‘media’ never utter a word on these topics while reserving all of their fake-anger and fake-outrage only on Hindu groups.

  3. Pursuant to my observations about Sania Mirza, she and her partner are out of the opening game of the mixed double at Rio.

    Sania Mirza has an attitude probem and suffers from a superiority complex, which has been aggravated by the government, sports authorities, corporate houses and general public by raising her to the sky and pampering her. She feels that she has done (and continues to do) a favour to India by sometimes winning in doubles and her partner is Martina Hingis, a sports person with incredible and impeccable credentials.

    She is not doing any favour for the country (because she is not playing for free) and she has been compensated umpteen times her real worth. In fact, the very day she married Shoaib Malik, she should have been eased out and, if Pakistan desired, she could have represented that country. By marrying a Pakistan, her loyalties are dubious and she has her feet in two boats.

  4. I fail to understand why does the government select ex-sportsmen who have not participated in Olympics as Brand Ambassadors, rather than Sachin Tendulkar, who is from cricket – certainly not an Olympic or international sport. Again, why Salman Khan? What has Bollywood to do with Olympics. Secondly, he is facing criminal litigations for reckless driving and hunting black bucks and has been able to escape punishment due to being filthy rich and bribing witnesses.

    • Again, why Salman Khan? – Mr. Nelson

      Sir, when compared to that 50+ zero who thinks he is getting younger in age as days go by, I think there are more pressing issues in India. Numero uno among them is this bunch of hooligans who pass themselves off as ‘Gau Rakshaks’ and literally terrorize people. Here, take a look and tell me what you think of these vigilantes.
      I also wonder what out Yumreeki Gau Rakshak from Yumreeka – has to say to this. And hey, those Murudu statues asked me to convey you their best wishes with prayers for your continual peace of mind. 😉 Hope you don’t mind. Ahem! 🙂

      So, Mr. Nelson, compared to the crap happening in India, is an Olympic medal of any significance? Oh, if there were to be some ‘sport’ such as say….. err…. beating the bejesus outta some poor dalits for ‘intolerance’ towards ‘Amba Mata’, etc.. I’m quite positive that our lads from Gujarat, all the cow-belt states etc would bring us EVERY Gold medal in EVERY weight category.

  5. Pakistan has sent a six member team, all wild card entries, which means they are not those based and playing in and for Pakistan, but people of Pakistani origin residing and settled abroad.

    These wild card entries did not have any elimination or qualifying rounds to shortlist and represent Pakistan at Rio Olympics. Forget about their rankings in respective sports. Such is the pathetic situation. They will be accompanied by a 10 member administrative staff who, as per one ex-player, have accompanied earlier contingents and, once there, they will have a good time, fun and frolic and buy medicines, balms, creams for niggles and aches.

  6. The word is out that Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza are both not going to play together in women doubles. It is reported that both are going to play the women’s doubles with different partners. Best of luck to both of them. I wonder if Sania Mirza will get a better partner than Martina Hingis though the latter, considering her age, may not be as athletic as she used to be in her prime.

  7. Joker Praveena Pinto has managed to restore his internet connection after a few weeks of living offline!! Well, congratulations on his first salary at Pilikula. But, his old habit of responding with unrelated topic hasn’t changed. This report is on Olympics and he responds with some local ‘beef’ politics. As the kannada saying goes – ‘huttu guna ghatta ….”

    • Well, congratulations on his first salary at Pilikula. – Yumreeki ThyampaNNA

      Ayyo, ThyampaNNA, I gave you a month ALONE out here in order to to allow you to dry-up so that your hallucinations would go away for good. Unfortunately, my best intention thus far has gone in vain. But then, what the heck? I have TRULY missed your jokes (such as – “restore his internet connection, first salary at Pilikula, unrelated topics” etc.

      All I can sing is – May we have MANY more (jokes).

      Attaboy, Rampa.

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