Celebrating a multitude of 'firsts' in Indian tennis with the Limca Book of Records
The launch of the Limca Book of Records 2015 by Coca-Cola in the Jaipur Literature Festival marked the release of its 26th edition. Launched in 1990, the Limca Book of Records was the second of its kind in the world after the Guinness Book of Records. Celebrating the achievements of Indians across various fields, the Limca Book of Records has also extensively covered feats in Indian sports.
In this article we look at the records and feats in the sport of tennis in the Limca Book of Records over the years.
The early years
Sardar Nihal Singh and Jenny Sandison were the first Indian male and female tennis players respectively to participate in the prestigious Wimbledon Championships.
Sardar Nihal Singh played for the first time at the All England Club in 1908, where he lost 11-9, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round to Briton Herbert Wilson Fox. Jenny Sandison made her Wimbledon debut in 1929 and she also made a first round exit after a 6-2, 6-3 defeat against Frenchwoman Simone Barbier.
Krishnans announced their arrival with junior titles in Grand Slams
Ramanathan Krishnan was the first Indian (and Asian) to win the Wimbeldon boys’ singles title, a feat he achieved when he defeated Ashley Cooper in the final.
Ramanthan’s son Ramesh Krishnan emulated his father’s feat when he won the same title in 1979. The year of 1979 also saw Ramesh becoming the first Indian to win the French Open boys’ singles title, which till date remains the only win by an Indian junior at the event.
Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza – the stalwarts of modern-day Indian tennis
After the Krishnan father-son duo, it was the turn of Leander Paes to make the world take note of Indian tennis when he became the first Indian to win the US Open boys’ singles title in 1991 (which till date remains the only win by an Indian junior in the event) along with the Wimbledon Junior title in the same year.
Paes, who won the bronze medal in men’s singles at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, also holds the record for most matches played for India in Davis Cup – 120 matches – with a win/loss record of 88/32. This is the third best record in Davis Cup history, which Paes jointly holds with Manuel Santana of Spain. N Pietrangeli of Italy, who has played 164 Cup matches, and Illie Nastase of Romania, who has played 146 matches, are the only players ahead of Paes in Davis Cup match appearances.
Paes, along with his peers Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza, have done exceeding well in the doubles format of tennis in recent years. Below are some of the firsts in Indian tennis that the three players have achieved in Grand Slams:
– First win by an Indian in a senior Grand Slam event: Mixed Doubles Title at French Open won by Mahesh Bhupathi and Rika Hiraki (Japan) in 1997
– First men’s doubles title at French Open: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in 1999
– First men’s doubles title at Wimbledon: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in 1999
– First mixed doubles title at US Open: Mahesh Bhupathi and Ai Sugiyama (Japan) in 1999
– First men’s doubles title at US Open: Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Miryni (Belarus) in 2002
– First Indian woman to win a Grand Slam: Sania Mirza when she won the mixed doubles title at the 2009 Australian Open with Mahesh Bhupathi
– First men’s doubles title at Australian Open: Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek (Czech Republic) in 2012
Indian tennis is not short on achievements of the highest order, and the country’s players have been flying the flag of the sport high over the past few years. Will the Limca Book of Records also have a section on ‘firsts’ in singles Slam champions soon? You never know!