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Considering this happened prior to the Olympics. It wasn’t a surprise that India did not even get close to getting a medal in Tennis.

My Thoughts

Recently the AITA (All India Tennis Association) announced the Indian Tennis teams for the upcoming London Olympics 2012. The overall announcement turned into a farce which ended up in the association having to redo the combinations. Tennis is one of the few sports where India has a strong chance of obtaining a medal in the Olympics. The strong Indian contingent comprises of fantastic doubles players such as Leander, Mahesh, Sania and Rohan Bopanna.

Everyone knows that Leander and Mahesh split once again for the 100th time last year and do not like to play with each other. It was pretty strange when AITA paired Leander with Mahesh for the London Olympics. But when the announcement came in there was a series of ugly spats in the media. Mahesh came in and refused to play with Leander and threatened to pull out. Leander for his part did the same thing. Rohan…

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Roger Federer (Left) and Rafael Nadal (Right) had a wonderful year 2010

Article first published as Tennis 2010: Year of Nadal and Federer on Technorati.

The year 2010 in tennis marked yet another year of domination from the two modern greats of tennis Nadal and Federer. Federer began the year by winning the Australian open but Nadal aced the rest of the Grand Slams this year to become only 7th man in the history to win a career grand slam. The year ended with these two stalwarts competing again with each other and rightly so, in the London Masters where Federer got one up on Nadal at the end of the year setting up an exciting 2011.

Even though these two giants have dominated the Grand Slams, there have been others who have made giant strides. The biggest achievers of the year have been Robin Soderling, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. Novak Djokovic has yet again finished as the number 3 player in the world just behind Nadal and Federer for the fourth straight year and has had a great 2010. Even though he hasn’t managed to win a major slam this year he has been brilliant as he led his team Serbia to Davis Cup glory. He played some of the greatest games in the US Open this year where he took out Roger Federer in a 5 set marathon in the semis, only to lose to Nadal in the finals. He for sure would want to do better in 2011 and hope that he can break in to the top 2 at the end of next year.

The other player who had a wonderful year is Andy Murray. After Tim Henman, Murray took over the expectations of his nation in a bid to become the first British player to win a slam in 64 years. Even though he came pretty close in the Australian Open 2010 when he reached the finals only to be denied by Roger Federer at the summit clash. He though had a fantastic year as he became just the 5th player to beat both Federer and Nadal in the same tournament as he went on to clinch the Toronto Masters. Murray also reached the Wimbledon semis for the second straight year and has finished the year at number 4 yet again for the 3rd year in a row. Even though Andy Murray has to wait little longer to become the first male player to win a Grand Slam from Great Britain, no one can deny that he has had a great year personally as a player and would for sure be looking forward for a better 2011.

The final player who has had a brilliant 2010 has been Robin Soderling. Even though the year began on a low for Robin losing in the first round of Australian open, the Swede quickly brushed aside his indifferent start to have another great year. Soderling became a giant killer in French open where he ousted Roger Federer in Quarters, only to lose to Nadal in the finals. He had a brilliant Wimbledon too as he made the quarters there for the first time and reached the US Open Quarters for the second straight year. Him following up on a brilliant 2009 meant that he ended the year at number 5 in the rankings.

Even though men’s tennis this year had some standout performances, no one can deny that this year yet again belonged to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The two greats are not letting up yet and the challengers have to still raise their games to upset these champions. But with Djokovic, Soderling and Murray close on heals 2011 promises to be an interesting year in men’s tennis. Will one of these three be able to kick one of the Grand Slams from Nadal and Federer? We have to wait and watch. Till then lets revel in the success of the these two tennis superstars who have taken the word rivalry to a new level.

Somdev acknowledges the crowd after becoming the first Indian to win a gold in Asian Games in Singles

Somdev Devvarman became the first Indian to win a gold in Tennis in the Asian Games singles event. He also became the first Indian to win two gold medals in Asian games history. Just a month ago he had won Gold in the Commonwealth games, also becoming the first Indian to do so. This has been a brilliant year for Somdev as he broke into the top 100 for the first time in his career and also has won 2 gold medals in two major events representing India.

He had also led India to the world group in Davis cup earlier this year. History beckoned Somdev when he stepped on the court in the finals against Uzbekistan’s Dennis Istomin who is ranked 44 in the world and the Indian ace did not disappoint. It was a lopsided final as the Indian won it comfortably with a score line of 6-1, 6-2. The win gave Somdev his second gold in the Asian games to go with 1 bronze which he had won earlier in the team event.

Speaking to the media after his historic win an ecstatic Somdev said, “I am very, very happy to get the gold here. It’s a dream come true. No one comes to an Asian Games with the intention of winning two gold medals. Representing the country gives me the greatest pleasure,”

A brilliant year for a fantastic player and I hope that he can repeat the same success in the world events in the coming year. With this brilliant performance Somdev has for sure become India’s “Golden Man”.

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.

Somdev created history by becoming the first tennis player to win a gold for India in CWG 2010

Commonwealth games (CWG) just concluded in Delhi with a grand closing ceremony earlier last week and India had pulled it off after being in the news for all the bad reasons. All in all a great games for the Indian contingent as they finished second in the medals tally just edging England out.

The games was special for lots of athletes none more so than Somdev Devvarman who got the first gold medal for an Indian tennis player in CWG. Even though the top players from Australia and England did not make it to the CWG 2010, it was a fantastic effort from the Indian. Somdev had a great year where he led India to the world group with a brilliant win over Brazil and also broke into the top 100 in the ranking for the first time. Sania Mirza too brushed aside her lackluster year to come up with an inspired performance in the games.

Sania played very well throughout only to lose to the top seeded Australian Anastasia Rodionova in thrilling 3 set match in the finals to settle for the silver. Somdev though did not have such troubles as he coasted to a comfortable straight set victory over Greg Jones of Australia to claim the gold medal. It was a good CWG 2010 for the Indian tennis team as they won at least one medal in each of the disciplines. Sania also won the bronze in the women’s doubles playing with Rushmi Chakravarthy.

The biggest disappointment though was the performance of the Indian star doubles pair of Leander and Mahesh as they ended up with just the bronze medal. Lot was expected from this pair as it was touted as their last time playing together. Leander and Mahesh were the favorites to take the gold this year but it was not to be. They lost in the semis to Australia’s less fancied pair of Paul Hanley and Peter Luczak. The other shock was the loss of Leander Paes and Sania Mirza in the quarters which deprived India of another medal in tennis.

But overall this was a good return for India as they ended up with 4 medals in this year’s game and Somdev’s gold made is all the more special. Hopefully Somdev goes from strength to strength from here and has a great year ahead. It is sad to see that Leander and Mahesh will not be playing together anymore but for all these years they have kept the country’s hopes alive. I hope that they continue to play for team India in Davis Cup.

Champions Trophy (Cricket) and Davis Cup (Tennis), the two major events which took place last month had one thing in common. The common factor was Chennai, my hometown. The Champions Trophy cricket was won by Chennai Super Kings and the Davis Cup tie between India and Brazil was held in Chennai. I was in India while both these events took place and was fortunate enough to witness them at a convenient time zone.

The Davis Cup was held in Chennai’s Nungambakkam stadium where the yearly Chennai open takes place. The venue was chosen by India’s number 1 player Somdev Devvarman as hard court is his favorite surface and he felt that the city’s heat and humidity will work against the visitors. But when Bopanna took on Thomaz Bellucci who happens to be ranked 27th in the world, the weather in Chennai was uncharacteristically pleasant. The game which was supposed be an easy one for the Brazilian turned out to be a 5 set marathon.

Bopanna played a brilliant game and should have won it but mistakes at crucial times in the final set cost him the match. With Brazil leading 1-0, Somdev stepped on the court to face Brazil’s second best player Ricardo Mello. This game was supposed to go India’s way and after the first set it did not seem otherwise. Somdev breezed through the first set and it seemed like the first day will end with the honors even between the two teams. After the first set Ricardo Mello upped his game quite a bit and Somdev started wilting under the pressure exerted by the Brazilian. It was another 5 set epic and another victory to Brazil and India got off to the worst possible start. Brazil would have been thrilled to be 2-0 up after the first day. The decision to play on the hard court seemed to have back fired and it seemed like the Brazilians were not minding the Chennai weather either.

After the disappointing first day the onus was completely on the champion doubles team of Leander and Mahesh to keep the Indian team in the hunt. Leander and Mahesh played a brilliant game defeating the Brazilian pair of Marcelo Mello and Bruno Soares in straight sets to get the first victory for India. The third day began with India needing to win both the reverse singles game and boy did they play well. Both Somdev and Bopanna played brilliant tennis to win their respective games to had India one of the most famous Davis cup victories and an entry into the world group.

The other major event which concluded just a week ago was the Champions trophy. The event this year was held in South Africa and three IPL teams participated in the same. Chennai Super Kings who were the IPL Champions began their campaign in style when they demolished Central Districts by 57 runs in the opening game. Chennai seemed to have the best team suited to the conditions in South Africa. Their batting was strong and had one of the most balanced bowling attacks for the pitches in South Africa. Chennai just lost a single game in the round robin stage to Victoria and that too in the super over.

Things weren’t that rosy for the other IPL teams in the championship. Mumbai struggled for consistency in both batting and bowling and Bangalore had issues with their bowling attack. The Royal Challengers though made it to the semis with the help of couple of big wins as Mumbai Indians made a sorry exit from the event. The Royal Challengers faced the Super Kings in a one sided semifinals where Suresh Raina hammered an unbeaten 90 odd to steer his team to the finals. Bangalore though struggled throughout the game after their strike bowler Steyn injured himself taking a difficult catch to dismiss Hussey. Their bowling and fielding completely fell apart and they allowed Chennai to pile up 170+ in 17 overs. In the end the target proved too much for the Royal Challengers team who succumbed without a fight.

Chennai’s opponents in the finals were the home team Warriors who had been brilliant till then in the competition. The finals though again was a one sided affair as Chennai demolished the Warriors batting to dismiss them to a modest 128. Chennai knocked of the required runs without much fuss in 19 overs with 8 wickets still in hand. It was a brilliant win for the team from Chennai and they once again proved that they are one of the most consistent teams in the IPL pack. This was also an emotional moment for the franchise and the players as this was a last game for them as a team before the players will be shuffled again in a fresh auction later this year. In a way this was a nice farewell for a bunch of players who had worked extremely hard and have emerged victorious in the IPL 3 as well as in the champion’s league becoming the first team from IPL to achieve the double.

All in all a brilliant win for Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings. Hopefully we will see the franchise carrying this legacy forward, no matter what team they put forward next year. All in all a good month for Indian sports and I had a blast watching all of it during my vacation without the worries of losing my sleep in doing so.


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