India will now have five shots at winning the men’s doubles title at the Australian Open, at least on paper. The country’s growing presence in doubles has extended to five players, in five different teams, at Melbourne this year.
Leander Paes, India’s top doubles player and the only one to have won the title at the Australian Open, and Czech partner Radek Stepanek have been seeded fifth. The reigning US Open champions have a tricky first round, as they take on Lukas Dlouhy, Paes’ former doubles partner, and the big-hitting Lukas Rosol, whose claim to fame remains beating Rafael Nadal at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships.
Rohan Bopanna and Aisam Qureshi, seeded seventh, will resume their Grand Slam journey with a first round clash against Rameez Junaid and Adrian Mannarino.
Meanwhile, Mahesh Bhupathi, who will play a limited calendar until Wimbledon this year, has teamed up with America’s Rajeev Ram.
Yuki Bhambri, who first made a splash by winning the boys’ title at the Australian Open, is all set for his seniors debut in majors. The 22-year-old Indian will play with Michael Venus of New Zealand.
It has been a significant past seven months for the fifth member of the Indian contingent, Divij Sharan. The southpaw will play his third Slam in a row, having competed at last year’s Wimbledon and US Open. Sharan has teamed up with Yen-Hsun Lu again and the pair will hope to take heart from their run in New York, where they reached the third round.
Lu, from Chinese Taipei, has been in good form in singles as well. He reached the final of the Auckland Open, losing the title to John Isner in two tie-break sets.