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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Wimbledon begins amid tension in Indian tennis

LONDON: India’s squabbling tennis players would be eager to prove a point amid a bitter selection row for next month’s Olympics here when they take the court at the prestigious Wimbledon Championships starting on Monday at the All England Club.


Since the Olympics will be played at the same grass courts, it is an opportunity for players to get a hang of the conditions but more importantly for them, the event is also a chance to outdo each other and score a few brownie points after the bitter wrangling over who pairs up with whom for the Olympics.Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, after having their way in getting selected as a team for the Olympics, would look to do that extra bit in getting a good result here to convince the country that their fight was worth it.They have done reasonably well since teaming up at the start of the season. They won an ATP title in Dubai and reached semifinals of five other tournaments, including the three elite Master events.They have been seeded seventh here and have an easy opener against the unseeded pair of Marcel Felder of Uruguay and Malek Jaziri of Tunisia.Leander Paes, who is apparently unhappy at being paired with a lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan for the Olympics, is not going into the big event in a good frame of mind but he is expected to leave the bickering outside the court once he starts playing.With Radek Stepanek, he made a stupendous start to the season by completing his career Slam by clinching the Australian Open trophy. He also won two more titles with his Czech partner.However, Peas has been struggling of late as he has had to change partners. Paes and Stepanek are seeded fourth and will open their campaign against the unseeded Columbian pair of Alejandro Falla and Santiago Giraldo.It will be interesting to see how Sania Mizra and Bhupathi perform here after winning the French Open, their second Grand Slam trophy together.Sania’s winning combination with Bhupathi has been broken for the Olympics by AITA to appease a sulking Paes but if Sania-Hesh combination yet again delivers a good result, it will put AITA under a lot of pressure and in an uncomfortable position.AITA has made it clear that only Paes will partner Sania in the mixed doubles at Olympics but a good result in the Wimbledon by Sania and Bhupathi will create a situation where the decision of AITA’s will become questionable.The signing in for the mixed doubles at the Olympics is July 31 and rankings of July 23 will be considered for the seedings.In the women’s doubles, Sania will partner America’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands. They have been seeded 13th and face Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia and Sloane Stephens of the USA in their opener.


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