Men's doubles holds promise for India at Wimbledon | sports | Hindustan Times
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Men's doubles holds promise for India at Wimbledon

sports Updated: Jun 20, 2010 13:19 IST
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Sania Mirza will be the flag-bearer in singles but India has a lot at stake in the men's doubles event as well with an unprecedented five players from the country competing in the main draw of the Wimbledon starting Monday in London.

Sania will be playing in her first Grand Slam after tying the knot with Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik but her comeback has not been very impressive.

The results of two tournaments she played after a long injury lay-off are not encouraging. She lost in the second round of the Birmingham event and failed to qualify for the following Eastbourne event's main draw.

And the first round rival of the Indian at the Wimbledon -- world number 55 Angelique Kerber of Germany -- is not an easy prey.

It would require a huge effort by Sania to improve on her performance at the big stage as even if she beats the German, she will have to contend with either 13th seed Shahar Peer or former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic in the next round.

Only twice, Sania has reached the third round of a Grand Slam in her last 14 appearances.

On the other side, although both Somdev Devvarman and Prakash Amritraj could not qualify for the singles main draw, some good results are expected in doubles.

India has struggled in the last decade or so to look beyond estranged partners Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi but the recent rise of Somdev and the fast improving Rohan Bopanna has given many a memorable moments to the Indian fans.

Now Harsh Mankad has also joined the bandwagon by qualifying for a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.

The draw has been a little harsh for Somdev and Bopanna as it will be end of road for one of them at the very first round since they are pitted against each other.

Both Paes and Bhupathi are eyeing their 12th Grand Slam title and the latter would be desperate to end his eight-year old title drought in the men's doubles.

Bhupathi has not won a men's doubles trophy since winning the US Open in 2002 and his bulging Grand Slam kitty is more because of seven mixed doubles titles.

Paes has been more consistent and considering his form and chemistry with Czech Lukas Dlouhy, another title is well within his reach. They had ended runners-up at Roland Garros and in the build up event also, they reached the final in The Netherlands.

Bopanna and his Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi have improved a lot as a team and can give any good team a run for their money.

It will be tough for Somdev and Treat Conrad Huey to stop the Indo-Pak Express.

Mankad is paired with Serbia's Ilija Bozoljac and it will be a good learning opportunity for the duo.