For Indian tennis queen Sania Mirza, chasing two titles at the 2017 Australian Open might not be as easy a challenge as she would have liked. The World No. 2 has been the only Indian to have survived the early carnage at this year’s first Major as each of Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna, Purav Raja and Divij Sharan have departed from the men’s doubles draw.
While the 30-year-old has had a comfortable route to the women’s doubles third round so far, in mixed doubles, her path gets a little tricky right from the beginning. In partnership with Ivan Dodig, the second seeds will be up against the Croatian-German combine of Mate Pavic and Laura Siegemund.
The latter being unseeded might not make them apparently look too dangerous, but the duo did win a big title last summer – the 2016 US Open mixed doubles, which was the maiden Slam crown for either.
They indeed were the surprise champions in New York last year and going for a repeat of it might be high on their agenda this time. If the second seeds are successful in averting any early disaster, they can next meet the winners of the first round match between Sally Peers-John Peers and Alexander Peya-Saisai Zhang. Both Peya and John Peers are experienced doubles players and can be a threat if their respective combinations work well.
Mirza could meet Bopanna in quarters
Mirza and Dodig, who reached the French Open final last year, might then cross swords with Rohan Bopanna and Gabriela Dabrowski in the quarter-finals. The unseeded Indo-Canadian duo kicks off things against Katarina Srebotnik and Michael Venus before taking on the fifth seeds Yung-Jan Chan and Lukasz Kubot in the second round.
Mirza or Bopanna could face Paes in semis
Leander Paes, meanwhile, is in the other quarter of the bottom half of the draw. He and Martina Hingis, who completed their Career Slam in 2016, open their campaign against the local teen pairing of Destanee Aiava and Marc Polmans.
It certainly gets uphill from there as they can come up against the eighth seeds Rajeev Ram and Barbora Krejcikova in Round 2. In the last-eight stage, the fourth seeds Hao-Ching Chan and Max Mirnyi are the likely candidates to meet the star Indo-Swiss duo.
The semi-finals from the bottom half get very interesting with there being a probability of Paes-Hingis meeting the winner of Mirza-Dodig vs Bopanna-Dabrowski before having a face-off with the top seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Mike Bryan in the summit clash.Published 20 Jan 2017, 21:50 IST