The 32-team mixed doubles draw of the Australian Open 2019 has been announced and there could be an interesting face-off between Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes as early as the second round. The two are now the only Indian hope at the first Major of the year after a disastrous result in men’s doubles.
On the very first day of doubles action, the entire Indian challenge was wiped out in the men’s doubles section. Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan were expected to make a statement after the way they started the season at Pune, winning the Maharashtra Open in their first outing together at any ATP event.
But the 15th seeds went down fighting narrowly 1-6, 6-4, 5-7 to the Spanish combine of Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia Lopez. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Nicholas Monroe too met with the same fate, losing their opener 6-4, 6-7(8), 5-7 to the pair of Kevin Krawietz and Nikola Mektic.
Leander Paes too crashed out in the same round. In partnership with Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela, the former champion fell 5-7, 6-7(4) to Artem Sitak and Austin Krajicek.
Now the attention shifts to mixed doubles, the first round action in which begins on Friday. A year after finishing as the mixed doubles runner-up, Rohan Bopanna has teamed up with China’s World No. 24 Zhaoxuan Yang and they face the fifth seeds Robert Farah and Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the first round. Tough as it is, if they happen to cause an upset, they can come up against the Indo-Australian wildcard pair of Paes and Sam Stosur. But for that to happen, Paes and Stosur need to beat Kveta Peschke and Wesley Koolhof in the opener.
Should the veteran Indians meet, the winner of the match will have a possible quarter-final showdown with third seeds Rajeev Ram and Barbora Krejcikova. With the Indians being placed in the same half as the top seeds and defending champions Mate Pavic and Gabriela Dabrowski, the path is only going to get more and more uphill for them.
Mixed doubles first round:
Bopanna/Yang vs (5) Farah/Groenefeld
Date: Friday, January 18, 2019
Time: 11 am AEDT or 5.30am IST on Court 20Published 17 Jan 2019, 20:55 IST