My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Leander Paes

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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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.

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 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.

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.

Leander and Mahesh won their 24th tour title and their 5th at Chennai this weekend

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi won the Chennai open for the fifth time as it marked a perfect reunion for the two great Indians. The pair prevailed over the young pair of Robin Haase and David Martin in a tense 3 setter. This was their 24th title together and something which all the Indian tennis fans have been waiting for. The Chennai open started disastrously for the Indian contingent as Somdev, Bopanna and Yuki all wild card entrants had lost in the first round in the singles. But the doubles title was really a sweet end to the tournament for the Chennai crowd.

The great news is that Leander and Mahesh or Lee-Hesh as they are lovingly called by their fans have decided to play in the Australian open together in an attempt to win their 4th Grand Slam title together. It was yet another special win for the Indian pair and I hope they get few more before the end of the year. Congrats to Leander and Mahesh for an excellent victory.

Elsewhere it was business as usual for the Champion Roger Federer as he defeated Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets to capture his 67th tour title at Doha this weekend. This was an ideal preparation for the champion for his defense of the Australian open later this month. Roger finished 2010 in style when he defeated Nadal in the London Masters final and has began the year 2011 brilliantly by capturing the Doha title. Robin Soderling was another winner this weekend at Brisbane, Australia as he defeated American Andy Roddick to claim his 7th tour title. This is a brilliant beginning for the Swede who ended the year 2010 at number 5 in the rankings. The win has enabled him to reach his career high ranking of No.4 again. He will try to put up a great show in the upcoming Australian open where he was ousted in the first round last year.

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have made it to the season ending World Tour doubles Finals with their respective partners. Rohan Bopanna though misses out on a chance to complete with the world’s best doubles teams as he and Qureshi failed to qualify for the mega event. Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy have been placed in Group A and Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi have been placed in group B.

Leander and Dlouhy have to contend with the top seeded Bryan brothers in their group whereas Mahesh and Mirnyi have the second seeded Nestor/Zimonjic pair. It is brilliant to see both these players participating in the London Finals and I hope that both of them do well. It will be great if one of them wins the title this year. This is probably one title which is missing from the resume of these two greats. Best of luck to both Bhupathi and Paes and hopefully we will see one of them emerge victorious at the end of it.

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.

Somdev guides India to the World Group after 11 years

Somdev guides India to the World Group after 11 years

India’s brilliant young Davis cup team reached the World group after 11 years where they will play Russia next year. It was a fantastic achievement considering India played with a young team this year that lacks experience playing in the Davis Cup. Somdev, Yuki and Rohan Bopanna are youngsters who haven’t played too much for India.

Leander and Mahesh have carried India’s hopes for so long and it’s heartening to see these youngsters coming through. Somdev reaching the second round of the US Open was a brilliant achievement and Yuki winning the Australian open juniors was special too. Rohan Bopanna has been playing pretty decent tennis too over the past year. This augurs well for India for the years to come. Somdev, Bopanna and Yuki helped India to a convincing 4-1 victory over South Africa away from home which is always special.

Playing for your country is special and these youngsters have done us proud. Yuki is just 17 years old and is number 1 junior player in the world. I hope that he matures into a very good player for India in the future. Given a chance to debut in the final dead rubber of the Davis cup tie against the SA he managed to beat Izak Van Der Merve to make the score line 4-1 in India’s favor. But the toast of the tournament for India was Somdev, who won both his singles tie to hand victory to India.

After his brilliant run in the Chennai open last year Somdev has been a revelation and continues to move up the rankings. I hope that this starts a golden run for India in tennis and we see a top 10 player during our lifetime. I wish all success to the Indian Davis cup team and hope that we defeat Russia in the World Group tie next year.


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