Saturday, August 27, 2011
After Team Anna, can Team India make us proud in New York??
India's top singles players, Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza, have had a reasonably successful 2011 season - both currently ranked inside the world's top 65 after beginning the year at no. 110 and no. 166 respectively.
But concerns over fitness and form, combined with a tough draw, means that they are unlikely to cause much damage in the singles draw of the US Open.
Devvarman, currently in the best shape of his life, has won only 3 matches in 4 hardcourt events leading into the year's final Grand Slam and has drawn world no. 4 Andy Murray in the first round. Murray, winner of the Cincinnati Masters last week, is seen by many as a potential winner in New York; and has too many weapons and too much court savvy for the Indian to have realistic chances for an upset.
On the other hand, Mirza is still battling the knee injury she suffered a few months back. The Indian has won only 2 matches in her 4 hardcourt warm-up events and meets world no. 24 Shahar Peer, of Israel, in round one.
If Sania is physically fine, she should have a good shot at upsetting Peer, who she has beaten in 4 of their 5 career meetings, including the last four in a row. Peer is in a slump of her own, having dropped from her peak ranking of no. 11 earlier this year, and if Sania can keep her unforced errors in check, she could easily win this one and go further with potential clashes against American teenager Sloane Stephens in round two and the struggling Ana Ivanovic in round three.
As usual, Indian fans will have to look towards the doubles if they hope to get some silverware. After a scintillating start to the year, the Indian Express - Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi - have had some medicore results (second round of French and Wimbledon) before winning the Cincinnati Masters title last week. The duo also scored a first win over the top-ranked Bryan brothers in 3 meetings this year in the semis there and followed it with a win over the second seeds Llodra/ Zimonjic in the final - nicely setting themselves up for a good run in the Big Apple.
The Indo-Pak Express, Rohan Bopanna and Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi , have failed to breakthrough to the winners circle after making the finals here in 2010. The duo are also struggling to win matches - 2 wins in 4 events post Wimbledon - which means they will be running short on confidence.
Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina have played only 2 events post Wimbledon, due to Mirza's knee problems and Vesnina's own fitness concerns (the duo had to reitre in one of those events due to the Russians hand injury). But look for them to reach the second week in New York atleast as they hope to make a push to qualify for the year-ending WTA Tour Championships (only the top 4 teams qualify, Mirza-Vesnina care currently third in the race).
Paes, Bhupathi, Bopanna and Mirza will also be competing in the mixed doubles draw though at the time of writing, it is still not certain who their partners will be. Given Paes and Bhupathi's excellent track record in this version of the game, there is a good chance for them to go deep in this draw.
Team Anna scored a historic win on Saturday. Lets hope Team India can score a big one in two weeks time.
Posted by Haresh at 11:52 PM