The tennis draw of the Rio Olympics 2016 has been announced and the Indian pair of Sania Mirza and Prarthana Thombare has been assigned to face the Chinese combine of Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang in the first round.
Peng and Zhang recently teamed up at the Wimbledon Championships in June and reached the second round before bowing out to the French Open winners Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia. Therefore, they can certainly present a handful challenge to the Indians.
2012 silver medallists in second round
The draw only gets more uphill for the Indian duo as their potential opponents in the second round could be the London Olympics silver medallists Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic. The top-ranked Mirza did beat the Czech girls in a crucial match this year at the Australian Open final when she had Martina Hingis by her side. Needless to say, this time it is an arduous task for the Indian star.
The road gets even tougher for the Indians as their likely quarter-final rivals will be the second seeds and French Open champions Garcia and Mladenovic. The French team has been Mirza’s nemesis in recent times and they beat Hingis and her twice in the last four months.
Mirza and Thombare have played with each other before and won the bronze medal at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. But having not played after that except for national duty at the Fed Cup might not help their cause much. Besides, this being the 22-year-old Thombare’s Olympic debut, it can take some time for the 192nd ranked Maharashtra girl to get going.
Sania, herself, too had been struggling lately, having lost her last five tournaments before the semi-finals. However, having tasted glory for India before, if the two can inspire each other, they can give some strong resistance to a couple of the big medal prospects. The women’s doubles event is scheduled to start in the early hours of Sunday morning.