Tennis makes CWG debut, Indians hope to strike gold

Out of the five events in the competition, India will be outright favourites in the men's doubles and mixed doubles events with multiple Grand Slam winner Leander Paes featuring in both.

Somdev Devvarman, who is the face of Indian tennis in singles on the ATP circuit, and Sania Mirza, whose career graph has nosedived following injury and slump in form, have a lot at stake at the Games.

With top international stars such as Lleyton Hewitt, Samantha Stosur and Andy Murray pulling out for varied reasons, Somdev and Sania would be expected to last long in the event.

For Sania, it will be an opportunity to revive her career and regain the confidence of the nation which has not produced a better woman player than her so far.

In the last half-a-decade, she successfully put India on the WTA landscape but has hardly anything to boast about in the last two years.

A medal at the Games would give a huge fillip to her struggling career, which at one stage looked destined to be bigger then what she has actually managed so far.
Nevertheless, she has inspired a lot many girls to pick up the racquet in the country and she is yet again expected to rise to the occasion.

Somdev took the tennis world by storm by his fabulous run at the 2009 Chennai Open. He has also reached the top-100 last month and is the first Indian to do so in the last 11 years.
He emerged as a giant-killer with wins over established players like Carlos Moya, Iva Karlovic but beating the big boys consistently has proved tough for him.

The pace of his progress has slowed down ever since he broke into scene.
Rohan Bopanna's may not be much of a force in the singles' arena, but he has had a phenomenal season so far in the doubles' circuit.

One of the biggest moments of his career came only last week when he along with Pakistan's Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi reached the men's doubles final of the US Open before losing to world number ones Mike and Bob Bryan in a closely-contested battle.

Reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals with Qureshi was also a highlight of his fine run this season.

He will be India's second entry in the men's singles and is capable of producing an upset or two. But his pairing with Somdev is also to watch out for.

This team is also expected to reach at least the quarter-final stage and a bronze medal looks well within their reach.

Paes and his estranged partner Mahesh Bhupathi, who have 23 Grand Slam titles between them, are a strong contender for gold in men's doubles.

Whenever the two have paired up for the country's cause, they have not disappointed whether it is the Davis Cup or other international multi-discipline tournaments.

They have not lost a doubles rubber in Davis Cup in their last 23 ties and are also Doha 2006 Asian Games Gold medallists.

The only time they joined forces recently but failed to produce a memorable result was in 2008 Olympics where they did not go beyond the quarter-finals.

Paes and Sania Mirza will team up in mixed doubles and though they have hardly partnered each other after winning gold at the Doha Games, they will be the pair to beat in the event.

India's resources in the women's tennis are so poor that All India Tennis Association had to pull Nirupama Sanjeev out of retirement to complete the squad.

Nirupama, who had a baby in her seven-year period of retirement, has been practising hard for the mega event and will feature in mixed doubles with Bopanna.

Young Poojashree Venkatesh and veteran Rushmi Chakravarthy will play the women's doubles and will also feature in women's singles.

If they can put up a decent fight, it will be no minor achievement in a sport in which 15 medals are up for grabs.

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