Category Archives: Leander and Mahesh

Olympics Tennis Fiasco – Who is at fault?

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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London Olympics X1 – India’s best performance in the games

Yogeshwar Dutt winning the bronze medal with a swollen eye shows determination and courage of the man.

6 medals does not seem to be a big number but when you consider that this is India’s highest tally so far in the Olympics it is a fantastic achievement. The medal winners have done the country proud and there were surely some highs for Indian in London Olympics.

Shooting:

Shooting was India’s biggest medal contributor along with wrestling in this Olympics. Gagan Narang got the ball rolling for India when he won the men’s 10 meter air-rifle bronze. His performance for sure was inspiring and probably led the path for others to aspire for a medal too in the competition. Vijay Kumar though went one step higher when he clinched the silver medal in the 25 meter rapid fire pistol. The biggest disappointment though was Abhinav Bindra who was India’s gold winner in 2008 Beijing Olympics. He lost in the qualifying round and finished 16th overall. A huge disappointment considering that he was India’s medal hope this Olympics too.

Boxing:

Boxing along with Tennis was considered India’s best chance of gold in 2012 Olympics. Vijender Singh was India’s biggest medal hope as he won the Bronze medal in 2008 Beijing Olympics. This year also marked the debut of Women’s boxing in Olympics and India had 5 time world champion Mary Kom participating in the 51 Kg category. Mary Kom though did not disappoint as she fought tenaciously to become India’s only medal winner in Boxing. She lost her semi-final bout but had done enough to claim the Bronze medal.

Most of the Indian boxers reached the quarter-finals but could not progress to the semis which would have assured them of a medal.

Badminton:

World number 4 Saina Nehwal carried the hopes of the entire nation in Badminton. She was expected to win a medal in the event and she did not disappoint. Saina lost in the Semis but went on to win the Bronze medal when China’s Xing Wang retired after injury in the Bronze medal game. People might call this lucky as Saina was trailing 1 game to none but the Indian ace deserved this medal as she played brilliantly throughout the event.

In the men’s singles Parupalli Kashyap played brilliantly to reach the quarters but failed to reach the medal round. He for sure punched above his weight in the Olympics and I hope that this performance will inspire him to achieve greater heights in the future.

Wrestling:

Again yet another sport in which India was expected to win few medals. Sushil Kumar who won the Bronze in 2008 Beijing Olympics was once again India’s biggest medal hope in 2012. He did not disappoint though as he ended India’s Olympics on a high when he won the silver in the frees-style event. He fought bad health in the finals to give it all but could not get gold.

Yogeshwar Dutt too performed brilliantly to win the Bronze. He too battled injury to win the medal. His was one of the most inspiring performances for India in the 2012 Olympics for India. He battled a severely swollen eye to win the bronze medal match and for sure emphasized the hard work and determination.

Tennis:

Tennis was an event where India was supposed to win a medal for sure. Considering that we had the legends Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in the mix. It was disappointing that we did not even reach the semis in any of the events. The event did not start on the right note when the legends ended up fighting on their differences and to be frank it was ironical that India failed to win a medal in this event. India needs to somehow unearth some good tennis players to replace Leander and Mahesh or we might just lose the great legacy these two have built in the doubles arena.

Overall this event was a grand success for India. 6 medals are twice as many we got in 2008 Olympics. Even though we did not win a gold medal this was a commendable performance. I just hope that this inspires more people to take up to athletics and sports in general in the future. The government needs to support these athletes too. It is very difficult to expect people to take up sports which might not even pay their livelihood. People keep saying that Indians have a population of 1 billion and we can’t even get a single gold. Even though it sounds bad it is not the entire story.The answer lies in the way we treat our athletes. There was news in the media as to how substandard the facilities were for these athletes when they were preparing for this event.

The government needs to make sure that people who are in athletics don’t give up the sports just because it becomes difficult for them to survive participating in it. Until there is a change let us just enjoy this success which was achieved amidst adversity and lack of support. Sponsors need to step in and support these athletes and make sure they get the best facilities to prepare and be in great condition when they represent the country at the highest level.

Olympics Tennis Fiasco – Who is at fault?

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 Bopanna too refused to partner Leander as he has had a successful time partnering Mahesh in the grand-slams this year.

This was really sad when you consider that this was an Indian team which has been announced. Tennis as a sport is mostly individual except for certain events such as Olympics, Davis Cup etc…So it does not require the players to get along with each other like how it is with other team sports. The players and the AITA are both at fault here. AITA should have known about the situation and probably should have discussed the situation before announcing it to the media. The players too even though being unhappy should have spoken with the AITA first before expressing their displeasure openly to the media. It was ugly when Sania Mirza and Leander’s father too got involved in this circus.

I can’t believe that a person who is not even a member of AITA or has never played any tennis can come in public and request for a written assurance from a tennis player to partner his son. I feel sorry for the young Vishnu Vardhan who got stuck in this crossfire. He would have been honored to represent India at the highest stage and to be paired with a Legend in the Olympics only to find that Leander refused to partner with him unless Sania partnered with him for mixed doubles.

This seemed like a round of ugly politics and players egos coming to the fore. Leander and Mahesh are legends of Indian tennis but it seems like their egos are bigger than their achievements. We thank them for all the great things they have done for the Indian tennis but this situation could have been handled better. Threatening to pull out of a premier event for any reason when your country’s pride is at stake is an extremely selfish act. I understand that the mistake was from both the sides but a discussion behind the scenes would have been a much better option.

The young players look up to these legends for inspiration and this is not something they would like to see. I am just happy that the issue has been finally resolved and it seems like the players are happy with whom they have been paired with. Leander has finally agreed to pair with Vishnu and Mahesh with Bopanna. Sania Mirza will be paired with Leander and she said that she is honored to do so. Somdev and Sania will be playing singles after getting wild cards to represent India in the Olympics. After all this tamasha, it does look like India has some decent chance of multiple medals this year. I hope that the players put behind their differences and perform to the fullest in the event to bring glory to the country.

Nadal continues to dominate on Clay

Nadal poses with John McEnroe after winning his record 7th French Open title.

Rafael Nadal continued his dominance on clay with a record 7th French Open title. He beat world number 1 Novak Djokovic in a tough four setter 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 to claim the title. The win also makes Nadal the most crowned man in the open era history at French Open. Like most of the grand slams over the past few years, this year too we saw the top three making it to the semis. Djokivic dismissed Federer in the semis to set up a mouthwatering encounter with the defending champion in the finals. The final was a brilliant spectacle with some blazing tennis from both the players but in the end the consistency of Nadal proved too much for the world number 1.

Sharapova claims the women’s title

Sharapova becomes the French Open champion thereby completing her career slam

Sharapova beat Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2 in a one-sided final to claim the French Open crown. This was a sweet victory for Sharapova who in the process also regained her top spot in the rankings. This was a great comeback from the champion who went through a major surgery in 2008 in a bid to save her career. Maria joined the elite list of women’s tennis with this win as she completed her career slam.

Mahesh and Sania win the Mixed doubles crown
Mahesh Bhupati and Sania Mirza won the mixed doubles crown beating Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Santiago Gonzalez 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 in the finals. The pair won their second title together, with their previous win being in the 2009 Australian Open.

Chennai’s young sports personalities

Sports in India have always been synonymous with Cricket. Even though we have had famous personalities in other sports, they hardly get the kind of recognition and press as the cricket personalities do. I have decided to dig some names and personalities who are the future of Indian sports which includes non-cricketing superstars. This article only covers the sports personalities from my home town as Chennai/Tamil Nadu has always been a place which has produced variety of sports personalities. I am just naming few of the current stars.

Dipika Pallikal

She is born in Chennai and this 20 year old is a squash champion. She is the highest ranked squash player from India and is currently at 14th in the world. She has three WISPA (Women’s International Squash Players Association) titles and was the first Indian player to make the Quarter finals of world squash open. She also became the youngest Indian player to reach the summit clash of a silver event when she made it to the finals of “Tournament of Champions” Squash event in New York.

Dipika is a very talented squash player and has achieved a lot at a young age. Again Squash is a very low profile sport in India and she does not get too much of press as she should. Congrats to Dipika on a great 2011 where she climbed from 29th in the world to 14th at the end of it, hopefully she will have a better 2012.

Sarath Kumar

Nope he is not the Tamil actor. He is India’s first MotoGP racer in the 125 cc category. He is another racer from Chennai keeping the legacy of the city known for producing 2 formula 1 racers. The 20 year old Indian is the fastest rider in Indian class and was the first to break the 2 minute barrier on an Indian bake at the circuit. Another talented Indian sports personality who only got decent press due to him being the first Indian to ride in Moto GP. I hope he has a great 2012 and does well in the chances he gets.

Sharath kamal

He is yet another Indian sports personality who hardly gets enough press but is famous enough. Probably he is known the most around India among the names I have already mentioned. He is India’s number one table tennis player and has remained at the top for 4 years now. He won the gold at commonwealth games in 2006 and also has the distinction of being the first Indian to win an ITTF Pro title when he won at the Egypt open. He also captained the Indian team which defeated the English team who were the favorites and 9 time champions at the Egypt open in the same year.

Ilavazhagi

This is one person I found hardly any news about apart from a Chennai tabloid blog. The 2008 women’s world carom champion fought poverty to reach the pinnacle in the sport. She won the title in 2008 in France. The nation which was caught in the euphoria of the IPL completely missed the return of the triumphant Ilavazhagi’s return. The two time SAARC champion finally got the recognition when the State Government announced cash prize of 10 lakhs after her interviews in the media.

People who fight adversity and achieve great things need support of the media and the government. Champions like Ilavazhagi can actually inspire young people to achieve something and also teach them to fight to reach their goals. Kudos to her for the title and hope she goes on to do India proud at the world level once again.

Armaan Ebrahim

Yet another racer from Chennai following in the footsteps of Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok and Parthiva Sureshwaran, Armaan is the son of legendary Akbar Ebrahim who is the former British F3 champion. Armaan is a talented racer who competed in the Formula 2 championship in the years 2010 and 2011. He will be racing in the Firestone Indy lights in 2012. He has a great future and has very good reputation on circuit. Hope he has a great 2012 and wins quite a lot of races in the Indy lights. Another sports person who hardly finds any press

Tennis Scene in Chennai

Tennis and Chennai have always been hand in hand. The great father son duo of Ramanathan Krishnan and Ramesh Krishnan were from Chennai and so were the Amritraj brothers. Ramanathan Krishnan was probably the highest seeded Indian in Wimbledon when he was #4 in the 1962 championship. He has had multiple appearances in the Grand Slam Semi-Finals. His son Ramesh Krishnan also was a famous tennis icon in the 80’s. Following in the father’s footsteps, Ramesh also won the junior Wimbledon title in the late 70’s. Ramesh reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon once and US Open twice in his career. Ramesh reached his highest singles ranking of 23 in the year 1985.

Following in the tennis legacy of Chennai was Vijay Amritraj. Yet another great player from the Chennai shores. Amritraj was the highest ranked Singles player from India in the open era. His highest ranking was 16th in the world. Amritraj also reached the quarter-finals of US Open and Wimbledon and also had an impressive 384-296 W/L record in singles.

The greatness of the tennis scene did not stop with the Krishnan’s and the Amritraj brothers. It is to be noted that Leander Paes and current Indian number 1 Somdev Devvarman learned their trade in Chennai. Leander is the aluminous of the famous Loyola College in Chennai and did his schooling in the famous Madras Christian College. Chennai boasts of the famous Numgambakkam tennis stadium where the prestigious Chennai Open takes place every year. The Krishnan tennis center and the Britannia Amritraj tennis academy train lots of young players in India.

Chennai is also the home for the famous MRF pace foundation which has given the Indian cricket team lots of famous pace bowlers under the tutelage of legendary Dennis Lillie.

Chennai has always had a multi-faceted sporting culture. We have legends from tennis, Chess, Carom, table tennis and off course cricket. Chess champion and world number 1 Viswanathan Anand comes from Chennai and so do lots of Grand Masters following in his footsteps. This article is just the tip of the ice berg, there are number of other young achievers I might have missed. There are for sure lots of other sports achievers throughout the country who are not that well known through India. I just did this for Chennai and I already feel exhausted and I have not even included every young achiever in the city. Just imagine how many would be there throughout the country. Please add to the list if you know of such sports personalities. These stars require as much recognition and press as a cricketer does.

Djokovic reigns supreme and Paes completes career slam

Djokovic once again proved why he is the number 1 player in the world. He came through in a cliffhanger of a game against Rafael Nadal in 5 sets. The game was a perfect ending for a great tournament in which the top 3 ruled the roost again. Nadal who played a brilliant match in the semis to knock out Roger Federer lost out in the finals to the brilliant Djokovic. Novak Djokovic who had a brilliant 2011 continued in the same vein by winning the first grand slam of the year.

The game itself was a see-saw ride for the fans. Nadal started well by winning the first set 7-5 but Djokovic came back to dominate the next two sets 6-4, 6-2. At the end of the third set Nadal looked down and out but put in one last great effort to win the 4th in a tie breaker 7-6 to push the game into the 5th. Djokovic though held his nerve to clinch the final set 7-5 to win the match and the title.

It was a brilliant start for Djokovic in 2012 but for Nadal this was yet another loss to the Serbian in a grand slam. Nadal will now want to wait for his favorite surface at the Roland Garros for revenge if at all they face each other in the finals.

Leander’s Career slam:

Leander Paes finally won the Australian open to complete the career slam. This was the only title which was missing from his resume and he will be relieved that he finally got the monkey of his back. Leander and Stepanek were unseeded in this tournament and were brilliant in the finals. The Bryan brothers were chasing their 12 doubles title which would have given them the record currently held by the woodies and it was understandable that only a special effort from their opponent can deny them the prize. Leander and Stepanek were absolutely brilliant in the finals and provided no opening for the number 1 pair in both the sets.

The Paes/Stepanek pair had defeated the number 2 and number 3 seeds on their way to the finals which would for sure have given them a huge boost. It was a great tournament for Leander and he deserves the career slam. It would have been particularly sweet win for him as he had lost to the Bryan brothers at least 3 times in the finals of the Australian open in the past. Kudos to the Indian legend and I hope that he wins more titles this year and continues to succeed at the world level.

Overall it was a great open and the weather was fantastic throughout. The men’s tennis once again proved the domination of the top 3 as they ended up in the Semis once again. Roger, Nadal and Djokovic have dominated the slams over the past year or so and it will be great to see others stepping up in the remaining 3 slams in 2012.

Sania marches on as Somdev falls in the first round of French Open

The Indian challenge in the French Open singles was kept alive by Sania Mirza who recorded an impressive win over Kristina Barrois in the first round. Sania who is ranked 72 in the world played a brilliant match against 57th ranked Kristina win the game in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. It was a great win for Sania and I hope that this inspires her to keep going in the tournament. Sania will be playing her doubles match later today where she is paired with Elena Vesnina from Russia and the pair is seeded 7th in the tournament.

Somdev though wasn’t that fortunate as he crashed out of French Open singles earlier today when he lost to world No 37 Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia. Somdev who is ranked 66 in the world found Ljubicic extremely tough to handle and lost in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-4. The men’s doubles round are yet to begin where Leander and Mahesh will try to win their first Grand Slam after their reunion last year. I wish them best of luck and hopefully we will have couple of titles this year at the French Open.