Indian Tennis at Beijing

The momentous occasion of the Beijing Olympics is here! The 29th edition of the Summer Olympic Games have begun with enough pomp and show to convince even the most divine occidentals that the oriental fare of entertainment packs a punch, a big one at that. With ninety-one thousand people watching in the stadium and a television audience of about four billion to boot, the Games have truly begun with a bang.


Amongst all the pomp and show, the worrying part is that Indians across the pool of sports have been handed tough draws. Indian Tennis has also been a victim of this phenomena and the worrying part is that the bitter yet effective pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati, who have been seeded seventh, have to meet the number one pair of the Bryan brothers as early as the third round. This is nothing short of terrible news for the duo. They play the French pair of Gilles Simon and Gael Mofils in the first round.


I do not doubt the individual capabilities or the collective efforts of the duo. What is haunting is the personal equation of the two. Time and again they have gone beyond these to team up for national duty and causes but how far will it hold in the face of this kind of opposition is anybody’s guess. We can only hope against hope for a breakthrough performance for the duo and a streak of unparalleled upsets. Then again, the duo have often surprised us at this level, specially when they play for the country. We must remember, the shock upset of Gorna Ivanisevic and many players of the same category by the duo in the Davis Cup ties.


We do not have any representation in the men’s singles competition but I have an inkling that by 2012 one Indian men singles player will break through the barrier. My money is on Prakash Amritraj who does have the goods to be amongst the top 50 while we cannot deny the under-performing Rohan Bopanna a shot, though he is at the fag end of his career.


Sania Mirza (had it not been for her unfortunate injury) would have been the only Indian in the women’s singles field. Unfortunately for her, injuries crop up every time she has a substantive history of good fortune and form on her side. At the very beginning of the year she looked good to begin a fast charge in to the top 20 of the WTA Tour but she fell flat after a wretched wrist injury stopped her at her paces.


The weather in Beijing is hot and humid which would suit the Indians well and the courts are bouncy and slow. This will aid the women more for the swings require the balls to come to the striking point. Let us all hope for a good performance from the team. All we can do is to be bright yellow lights a.k.a. eternal optimists.


Sayan Das

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