Fourth seeds Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova have an easy route to the semi-finals as they have been placed in a comfortable section of the 2017 Australian Open women’s doubles draw. The Indo-Czech pair are in the bottom half but will not meet the second seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova until the semi-finals.
They start their challenge against the unheralded British combine of Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith. Their second round opponents could be the Australian-Chinese duo of Samantha Stosur and Shuai Zhang. Stosur, being a former top-ranked doubles ace, has the potential to make it a hard-fought affair but the fourth seeds are expected to make it through.
The first seeds drawn to meet Strycova and Mirza are the 16th seeds Darija Jurak and Anastasia Rodionova. In the quarter-finals, they are likely to cross swords with the eighth seeds and two-time Grand Slam champions Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova.
Mirza and Strycova met them just over a week ago during the semi-finals of the Sydney International where the former won en route to finishing runners-up. Following that, they are on a collision course with former champions Mattek-Sands and Safarova or Venus and Serena Williams in the semi-finals before meeting the top seeds Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in the summit clash.
Four Indians in men’s doubles
Rohan Bopanna is the only seeded Indian in men’s doubles. Seeded 15th, he and Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas will take on the Brazilian-Argentine duo of Thomaz Bellucci and Maximo Gonzalez. After a struggle in 2016, Bopanna started off 2017 on a positive note by winning the Chennai Open title alongside Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan.
However, things get tougher for the 15th seeds in the third round as they come up against the second seeds and defending champions Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray.
The only all-Indian team in the men’s doubles draw – Purav Raja and Divij Sharan – too are in the bottom half just like Bopanna. They kick off their campaign against fellow unseeded pair of Jonathan Eysseric and Fabrice Martin of France.
In the second round, they are likely to lock horns with the fifth seeds and reigning French Open champions Marc Lopez and Feliciano Lopez.
The evergreen Leander Paes is the only Indian placed in the top half. Paes and his new partner Andre Sa have the 10th seeds Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi in their opener. Incidentally, Paes and Sa defeated this very pair in the pre-quarter-finals at an Australian Open tune-up event in Auckland and would hope to repeat the same result.