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Only doubles delight

Ten years after Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi won the last of their Grand Slam titles, the Indians were preparing their bodies for the grind of the only clay court major, the French Open, which begins on Sunday. Deepti Patwardhan reports. India's best show

india Updated: May 22, 2011 01:02 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were sweating it out in Mumbai last week. And with a good reason. Ten years after they won the last of their Grand Slam titles, the Indians were preparing their bodies for the grind of the only clay court major, the French Open, which begins on Sunday.

Roland Garros has been of historical significance for the Indian doubles specialists.

Bhupathi claimed the country's first Grand Slam when he won the 1997 mixed doubles title along with Japan's Rika Hiraki. It is also the Slam that brought the first (1999) and last (2001) majors for Paes-Bhupathi.

Though Bhupathi hasn't left much of a mark since, Paes, with Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic, won the 2009 doubles event and followed it up with a runners-up finish last year.

The run-up to the French Open has been uneventful so far for the pair, who reunited after a nine-year split. They entered just one tournament, and lost to Sam Querry and John Isner in the match tie-break in the second round of the Italian Open.

The Indo-Pak combine of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam Qureshi, meanwhile, have a full season of clay under their belt. They made the semis at two of the events - Monte Carlo and Estoril Open.http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/220511/22_05_pg24e.jpg

Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza will carry the Indian flag in the men's and women's singles draws respectively. It will be only Somdev's second main draw match at the event and has been handed a tough opener against the experienced Ivan Ljubicic.

Meanwhile, Sania has a good chance to make further progress as she takes on German Kristina Barrois.