Paes, Bopanna and Sunitha Rao Impress This Week
It's been a reasonably good week for Indian tennis but not for Sania Mirza. India's number one singles player floundered in the opening round of the Kremlin Cup - falling to nemesis Gisela Dulko in her third straight career defeat to the Argentine.
Her luck in the doubles was only marginally better. Partnering Switzerland's Patty Schnyder, Mirza was ousted by the world's best doubles pair - Cara Black and Liezel Huber - in the quarterfinals.
Be that as it may, ATP Tour veteran Justin Gimelstob had this to say about the 20-year-old in his SI.com column this week.
"Mirza has ignited a continent with her success. She is a cult figure in her native India, and can't walk down the street without a full security detail. She possesses one of the biggest forehands in the game, and is attractive and charming. She's also integral to growing the game in the Far East."
As such the flag for Indian tennis was held high by Leander Paes. Just weeks before he ends his partnership with Martin Damm, the dynamic duo reached the semifinals of the BA-CA Tennis Trophy tournament in Vienna. Paes and Damm even had two match points before the fourth seeded Polish pair of Marciusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski advanced to the final with a 2-6, 7-5, 12-10 win.
Paes would be partnering Paul Hanley of Australia in 2008 and his reasons for splitting with Damm are purely professional.
"We have different goals next year...Martin wants to cut down on his tennis, while I want to play a full year, so we decided to get new partners," Paes told 'The Telegraph' from Vienna.
Also impressive this week was Rohan Bopanna whose semifinal appearance with Belgium's Olivier Rochus at the ATP Stockholm Open is further proof he's going to make it big in doubles. His stint as lucky loser in the singles draw had ended after he squandered a 4-1 lead over Spain's Albert Montanes in the first set. But Bopanna made good in the doubles with a win over South Africa's Jeff Coetzee and Dutchman Rogier Wassen.
It was only in the semis that second seeds Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi got the better of the Indo-Belgian pair in straight sets - 6-3, 7-5.
On the ITF circuit, Sunitha Rao has made the quarterfinals of the $50,000 San Francisco event. Her match against Indonesia's Romana Tedjakusuma wasn't over when this report was filed but there's a good chance the eighth seed will get through easily to the semis. Rao had routed Tedjakusuma in straight sets at a $25,000 tournament in Tampa, USA earlier this year.
Top seeds Rao and American Julie Ditty stumbled in their doubles opener - falling to an unseeded pair from South Africa.
Down Under in Rockhamption, eighth seed Tara Iyer made it to the second round before qualifier Robin Stephenson proved too strong for the Indian on the Australian hard courts.
In domestic action, Bellary in Karnataka will play host to the $15,000 India F9 Futures event next week with most of India's top singles players in attendance.