Stars seek to put the acrimony behind

Sania-Rushmi will clash with Taipei pair today

India’s feuding tennis stars will seek to put the selection acrimony behind when they launch their Olympic campaign here on Saturday, hoping to prove that their personal differences will not come in the way of bagging a medal for the country.

Wrangling among players in the build up to the mega-event has raised serious doubts on whether they are in the right frame of mind to be able to give their best when the event gets underway on the hallowed grass courts of Wimbledon.

Even though the team has now assembled for the event, odd disparaging statements have continued to come out from the players, keeping the tension alive.

But season­ed players -- Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza -- are thorough professionals and would look to put their best foot forward when the event kicks off. Whether they succeed in their attempt to do so will be known in the coming days.

Bhupathi and his partner Rohan Bopanna, who are seventh seeded, will open their campaign against Max Mirnyi and Alexander Bury of Belarus in the men’s doubles tennis event.

Seasoned pro Leander Paes and his unfancied partner Vishnu Vardhan will take on Julien jean Rojer and Robin Haase of The Netherlands in their men’s doubles opening round as per the draw announced on Thursday.

In women’s doubles, Sania Mirza and her partner Rushmi Chakravarthi clash with the Taipei duo of Su Wei Hsieh and Chia-Jung Chuang in the opening round.

Somdev Devvarman, who got a wild card, will launch his campaign against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland in the men’s singles opening round. If he manages to overcome his first round opponent, he will take on the winner of the match between third seeded Andy Murray of England and Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.

Sania and Rushmi had won an ITF title way back in 2004 in Britain. Since then Sania rose through the ranks, but Rushmi failed to make the grade.

The mixed doubles, which is making a return to the Olympics as a medal sport for
the first time since Paris 1924, will have a 16-draw, with four teams seeded.

The draw for the mixed doubles is being held mid-way through the event on July 31.
Entry into the mixed doubles will be based on each pair’s combined ranking. Players can use either their singles or doubles ranking to qualify, whichever is highest, and a maximum of two teams per country are permitted.

There are 12 Direct Acceptances into the mixed doubles, with the remaining four spots being filled by ITF Places.

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