Two of India’s finest doubles exponents - Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna - find themselves on the same side of the draw at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships. The two are poised for a second round meeting in mixed doubles as well as a potential quarter-final clash in men’s doubles.
Bopanna is seeded 10th with Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski and the duo have received a bye into Round 2. The two are coming into The Championships brimming with confidence, having won the French Open from the brink in the summit clash.
Bopanna’s best showing at The All England Club has been a quarter-final appearance which he achieved in 2013. He would be keen to improve on that now that he has finally tasted Grand Slam glory.
But it certainly will not be easy with former winner Paes being his possible opening round opponent. The ageless veteran, however, will not be seen this time alongside Martina Hingis with whom he has completed a Career Slam in mixed doubles.
It’s a fresh, new partnership for him with China’s Yifan Xu, ranked 24th in doubles. Before they get to lock horns with the reigning French Open champions, Paes and Xu will have to counter seasoned campaigners Fabrice Martin and Raluca Olaru.
The winner of the Bopanna vs Paes showdown will run into the eighth seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Hao-Ching Chan.
Paes/Bopanna vs Mirza in quarters
If either Paes or Bopanna can overcome that hurdle, there is a pretty good chance of them facing Sania Mirza in the quarter-finals. The latter is seeded fourth with Ivan Dodig and the two already have two Grand Slam runner-up finishes to their name with the most recent one coming at the Australian Open this year.
It does suffice to say that the quarter-final clash involving two Indians, should it happen, has all the ingredients to be a blockbuster.
While all of them are in the top quarter of the bottom half of the draw, there’s one more Indian in the bottom quarter of the same half. Purav Raja and Eri Hozumi are to face Santiago Gonzalez and Arantxa Parra Santonja in their opener, following which they could go on to meet the 11th seeds Daniel Nestor and Andreja Klepac.
The highest seeds in their quarter of the draw are the second seeds and former Australian Open champions Elena Vesnina and Bruno Soares whom they have to tackle in the quarters.
Only one Indian in top half
In contrast to the crowded bottom half, the top half, headed by the top seeds Hingis and Jamie Murray, has only one Indian. Divij Sharan has teamed up with China’s Zhaoxuan Yang and they take on the local pair of Ken Skupski and Jocelyn Rae.
It’s an uphill road from there as in the next round lurk the fifth seeds Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Andrea Hlavackova, both of whom are former Grand Slam champions.