As the doubles action gets under way at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships today, it is a good time to analyse the chances of the Indian players at the 140th edition of the prestigious grasscourt Slam.
Six Indians will be vying for the titles across the men’s and ladies doubles draws of which all eyes will be on the newly-crowned French Open mixed doubles French Open champion Rohan Bopanna.
Buoyed by that big win, the Indian has carried his impeccable form into the grass season. At the two warm-up events that he played, he finished with a runner-up showing in one and a semi-final appearance in the other.
At The Championships, he has teamed up with the French veteran Edouard Roger-Vasselin and the two are seeded eighth that placed them at the bottom quarter of the top half of the draw. They start off against a team of singles specialists - Dustin Brown and Mischa Zverev.
However, both are adept at the serve-and-volley game and could provide some resistance.
The third round gets tricky with former Wimbledon champions Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau lurking in the draw. The two have already won a couple of titles on hardcourts this year and will be the first stern test for Bopanna and Roger-Vasselin.
Things could get interesting in the quarter-finals as there is a chance of Bopanna facing former Wimbledon winner Leander Paes in what should be a must-watch contest for every Indian fan. Paes and his Canadian partner Adil Shamasdin emerged victorious on the lawns of the Ilkley Challenger just a few days back and would be pumped up to perform well.
But they do have a couple of dangers that can stop the Bopanna vs Paes showdown.
The Indo-Canadian duo will likely be crossing swords with the 14th seeds Florin Mergea and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi in the second round and the fourth seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo loom large in the third round after that.
If Bopanna and Roger-Vasselin can overcome all these hurdles, the top seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers await them in the semi-finals. The two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Bopanna has got the better of them twice this year, albeit with different partners.
The most recent of those triumphs was achieved at the Queen’s Club last month and that would definitely be a source of motivation for the Indian should he come across the world’s top-ranked pair yet again.
The final opponents can be one between the teams of Mike-Bob Bryan, Jamie Murray-Bruno Soares and defending champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert-Nicolas Mahut.
The other Indians in the men’s doubles draw have all found a place in the bottom half. Purav Raja and Divij Sharan kick off their campaign against singles exponents Kyle Edmund and Joao Sousa. The two have been making decent progress on the ATP Tour and have captured a Challenger title in 2017.
But their path is littered with threats, the first of which comes in the second round in the form of seventh seeds Rajeev Ram and Raven Klaasen.
Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who makes his Wimbledon debut this year, has joined forces with American Jared Donaldson after his regular partner Hyeon Chung was ruled out with an ankle injury. And the two begin their challenge against the all-British team of Jay Clarke and Marcus Willis.
Tough draw for Sania Mirza
The only Indian in the ladies’ doubles draw - Sania Mirza - has Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens by her side this time as Yaroslava Shvedova had to opt out due to an impending surgery. Seeded 13th, the two indeed have an uphill task ahead of them.
Their first round opponents are Naomi Osaka and Shuai Zhang whom they are expected to defeat comfortably. However, the draw has not been kind to them for they have a potential third round meeting with the third seeds and in-form combine of Martina Hingis and Yung-Jan Chan.
The Swiss-Chinese Taipei duo has very much been the team to beat for most of the season and has come to the SW19 fresh from clinching the Eastbourne title. And that doesn’t make Mirza’s prospects very bright.