Day 3 of the 2016 US Open turned out to be a grand one for the Indian tennis contingent at the final Slam of the year. All the three Indians in action – Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes – made winning starts to their respective campaigns on Wednesday.
Bopanna’s men’s doubles win was the biggest talking point of the day from the Indian perspective. The US Open did not begin in the fashion that the 36-year-old would have liked. His usual partner, Florin Mergea, who won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics, got injured and had to withdraw. Bopanna thus had to quickly find a suitable substitute.
In stepped Frederik Nielsen, who is a very experienced doubles exponent himself. His ranking might have slipped to 101 now but the Dane can boast of a Wimbledon title that he won alongside Great Britain’s Jonathan Marray in 2012.
Nielsen’s low ranking cost them a seeding and the Indo-Danish pair was drawn to face the 16th seeds Radek Stepanek and Nenad Zimonjic, two powerhouses of doubles tennis. But Bopanna and Nielsen were up to the task in their first outing together.
After losing the first set 3-6, the 16th seeds indeed made a comeback as expected and snatched the second set in a tiebreak, 7-6(7-3). But that could not daunt Bopanna and Nielsen.
They applied the right amount of pressure to earn two breaks of serve in the third set even after conceding their own serve once. They finally sealed the 6-3, 6(3)-7, 6-3 win in 1 hour 53 minutes.
Bopanna and Nielsen face an unseeded duo up next – the American-Kiwi pair of Brian Baker and Marcus Daniell.
Mirza extends her winning streak
Sania Mirza’s recent wins have been an inspiration for anyone who wants to bounce back after a setback. After suffering a Rio heartbreak in mixed doubles where she was twice one win away from a medal, Mirza plunged head-deep into work on her return to the WTA Tour.
And the results showed. She marched on with two titles in two tournaments and that too, with two different partners. And in the process, she became the sole owner of the World No. 1 ranking that she so long shared with her former doubles partner Martina Hingis.
At the Flushing meadows, she is playing with Barbora Strycova with whom she triumphed at Cincinnati. Seeded seventh, the Indo-Czech combine was expected to blast through their opening round against an unheralded American duo of Jada Myii Hart and Ena Shibahara. And that is exactly what they did.
They needed just 1 hour 9 minutes to notch up a 6-3, 6-2 win, breaking their opponents a total of 3 times.
Mirza and Strycova will next face the winner of the match between Madison Brengle/Tatjana Maria and Viktorija Golubic/Nicole Melichar.
Paes-Hingis start defense of their title
When Leander Paes and Martina Hingis combine in mixed doubles, magic is bound to happen as evidenced by their Career Slam in that category. The Indo-Swiss pair produced some more of their sparks to get the defense of their title off to a successful start.
In just 51 minutes, they demolished the young American team of Sachia Vickery and Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-2.
The statistics showed the difference in their experience – Paes and Hingis grabbed four breaks of serve and won a total of 56 points to their opponents’ 38. In the second round, they will meet the winner of the clash between Anastasia Rodionova/Juan Sebastian Cabal and seventh seeds Coco Vandeweghe/Rajeev Ram.