Just few years back, India tennis was all about Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. They held the hopes of an entire nation for a long time until Sania Mirza arrived on the scene. She was probably the first tennis icon for the current generation to look up to. Sania broke into the top 30 and gave us the hopes that probably this time we will see a Indian player in the top 10. In the last couple of years though her carrier has taken a nose dive and she is nowhere near her best anymore. Her ranking over this time has had a free fall from the top 30 to 166 where she is currently perched.
While Leander and Mahesh still battle on, we have new players on the scene giving some hope to the tennis fans in India. Somdev Devvarman is one of them. He became the first Indian player to win an individual gold in Tennis for India in Commonwealth games and also broke into top 100 this year. Then there is the young Yuki Bhambri who has just started to wet his foot in the professional world. While Somdev Devvarman takes over from Leander as India’s flag bearer in the Davis Cup, Yuki Bhambri has the making of being the first top tennis player from India.
Even though the singles scene is still uncertain with how the careers of both Somdev and Yuki will pan out, the doubles though has been healthier as ever. Leander and Mahesh have always been in the top 10 pairs in the world with their respective partners, the sudden raise of Rohan Bopanna should give the Indians additional hope. His partnership with Qureshi from Pakistan has grown leaps and bounds this year. They are in fact in contention for the Masters event later this year in which the top 8 doubles team participates every year. With Leander already qualified for the masters event, the battle will be between Bhupathi and Bopanna for the 7th and 8th spot. It will be wonderful if both of them can make it.
If that happens I guess this will be the first time when 3 Indian players will be participating in the year end Masters event. The rise of Bopanna and Qureshi has been amazing as the pair made giant strides in the last couple of years to reach the top 10 in the rankings. Amidst the animosity between the two countries, it’s great to see a Indo-Pak pair do so well as a team in world tennis. If only the others can learn something from this pair and understand that in spite of all the differences we can still work together for a peaceful existence.
So with just couple of months to go the battle is on. Bhupathi/Mirnyi pair has now climbed up to the 6th spot, strengthening their hopes of qualifying for the Masters. It will be up to Bopanna and Qureshi to raise their game to grab one of the final two spots. It has been a great year for Indian tennis and it seems like once Leander and Mahesh hang up their boots, Indian fans will still have something to look forward to in Tennis.