The Indian duo of Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza has a superb draw aiding their quest for an Olympic medal. The pair’s been seeded fourth in the rather truncated draw that has been the lot of these Olympics on account of withdrawals due to the Zika scare and injuries. The field has seen withdrawals of the likes of Roger Federer, Stanislas Wawrinka and the Bryan brothers. That in turn has meant that the prowess of Serena Williams and Martina Hingis will not be on display in the mixed even though they are competing in the Olympics. This allows our lot to go into the event with a very strong possibility of being medal contenders.
The luck of the dice has smiled on India as the Indians have been placed in the lower half of the draw that really has only one solid mixed doubles pair – that of second seeded pair of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Kristina Mladenovoic of France. The second seeds run into dangerous floaters Fabio Fognini and Roberta Vinci in their first round but after that their course to the semis seems clear.
Meanwhile the Indians have a relatively easy opener against the Aussie pairing of Samantha Stosur and John Peers. The two are not regular partners on the Tour and it remains to be seen if they can get their chemistry going. The other dangerous pairing, though maverick because they don’t play together regularly, is the combo of Rajeev Ram and Venus Williams of the US. Ram is no flake on the doubles circuit and it will be up to the fitness level and motivation of Williams that will figure just how far they proceed. But even this pair will not be a threat to our lot till the semis. And any pair in the semis will anyway be eligible for the bronze play off.
If Mirza and Bopanna win their first round, and they really should because they are the far better pair, then they face the winners of the encounter between Monica Niculescu and Florin Mergea from Romania against the Spanish pair of Carla Suarez Navarro and Davis Ferrer. That should not be too much of a hassle also for the specialist pair from India.
The other Spanish pair in the fray is that of singles maestros Garbine Muguruza and Rafael Nadal. They are seeded third but as to whether they can harness their explosive strokes to the nuanced needs of doubles will be the crucial aspect for them to prevail in this format. They, anyway, would only come across the Indians in a medal match as they are in the upper half of the draw.
All in all, the Indian duo are part of a pretty weak field for mixed. That really enhances India’s chances for a shot at a tennis medal. Now, our lot just have to deliver.