Come this 5th of August, Rio de Janerio will become the first South American nation to host the Summer Olympics which traces its beginning to 1896. Held alternatively after every four years, the 2016 Olympics sees the entry of two new nations, Kosovo and South Sudan, creating a record number of participating countries and around 10,500 athletes taking part in this multi-sport extravaganza.
The tennis events will be taking place at the Olympic Tennis Centre, from 6th to 14th August, 2016. The chosen surface for this year’s Olympics is a hard court and an expected participation of 172 players is awaited. There will be five events- singles and doubles for both male and female and also, the mixed doubles.
India has entered the names of four players who are due to participate in the Summer games at Rio. Sania Mirza heads the contingent, ranked Number 1 along with her female doubles partner, Prarthana Thombare. On the male doubles front, Rohan Bopanna, ranked 10 in the world and six-time pro Olympian Leander Paes have teamed up. India will be participating in 3 of the 5 tennis events, namely the Women’s Doubles, the Men’s Doubles as well as the Mixed Doubles, where Bopanna and Sania will be pairing up, again.
Let’s now analyse the chances of how brightly the Indian tennis camp shines and possesses hopes of bringing home a medal.
1. Sania Mirza
In a recent interview in Mumbai, Sania confessed that she has always wanted to play and represent her country at the Olympics and her pride surges at the very thought of it. When asked to predict her chances of winning a medal at Rio, Mirza opted a humble and diplomatic way out of the question by saying, “You try and play every tournament, play every match at merit, give your best and hopefully come back with a medal. If you don't (win a medal) then you try again. You cannot sit and predict what is going to happen.” But it would be thoroughly unfair to overlook the threat she imposes on the doubles circuit, being the world’s number 1 for a while now.
She has made a huge comeback and along with Swiss doubles partner, Martina Hingis, she has been quite the storm to dread on court. Ignoring the third round exit at Wimbledon, the duo of Hingis and Mirza have fared excellently at the recent Slams and other places too. They have been on a winning roll.
Mirza’s form is much better than before and she has developed a fairly enviable finesse in the game or is giving it her all in trying to achieve so. Prarthana, her doubles partner feels that she is quite undaunted to face big shots on the other side of the net provided she has Sania by her side.
If India stands a chance at winning a medal, Women’s Doubles is where most would put their money, because of Sania’s glaring form and inspiring success and comeback history.