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Bopanna adds to doubles hopes

In 2010, Rohan Bopanna finally emerged from the sizable shadows of fellow Indians Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi as he, along with Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, made a surprise run into the doubles final of the US Open. Sharmistha Chaudhuri reports. Indian Express at work

sports Updated: Aug 28, 2011 01:35 IST
Sharmistha Chaudhuri

In 2010, Rohan Bopanna finally emerged from the sizable shadows of fellow Indians Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi as he, along with Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, made a surprise run into the doubles final of the US Open. The duo lost out on the title in two tiebreak sets to the Bryan twins, Mike and Bob.

Though Bopanna-Qureshi haven’t fully delivered on the promise — this season, their playing activity is dotted with quarterfinal appearances and one title win at Halle — they present some hope on the doubles front.

The burden of Indian expectations will again fall on the shoulders of the experienced duo of Paes and Bhupathi. And though they showed that they are still not too old to carry it, by winning the Cincinnati Masters title last Sunday, it will take a huge effort to claim the US Open title. The duo, who re-united earlier this year, have never won the Slam as a team. In 1999, when they reached the final of all four majors, the Indian Express had lost to Alex O’Brien and Sebastien Lareau in the title clash.

Paes won at Flushing Meadows with Martin Damm in 2006 and three years later with Lukas Dlouhy. Bhupathi claimed the crown in 2002 partnering Max Mirnyi.

While the hard courts are his self-confessed favourite surface, Somdev Devvarman’s hopes of making a dash at the http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/280811/28_08_11_pg22d.jpgtournament suffered a blow as he was drawn to face world No. 4 Andy Murray in the opening round.

“I can’t do anything about the draw,” he was quoted saying in the Guardian. “It’s going to be tough. I lost a close match to (Marcos) Baghdatis in (Washington) DC. I haven’t played too much recently but I feel I’m hitting the ball okay.” Though Somdev has given a fight to a few top-10 players earlier this year, the Scot’s defensive game is likely to prove too solid to break through.

Haven’t had the best preparation: Sania

Sania Mirza will face Israel’s Shahar Peer in the first round but she accepts she hasn’t had the best preparation going into the Slam. “I haven’t had the best preparation in terms of wins and number of matches and with my partner, (Elena) Vesnina, struggling with minor injury issues, we haven’t played much of doubles, although I did win a title in Washington with (Yaroslava) Shvedova. I’ve overcome losses in the past and am confident of doing so again,” Sania told HT. She contends that the wrist has behaved well. “But there are other niggles. The shoulder has been acting up recently due to overwork.”

Prashant Singh, mumbai