The Indian doubles stars will begin their campaigns on Saturday at the Olympic Park’s tennis centre.
Leander Paes, the only player to represent his country in seven Olympic Games, and Rohan Bopanna, playing his second, open against Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski of Poland in the first round.
Interestingly, Paes had played both Roland Garros and Wimbledon this season with the 35-year-old Matkowski, making the quarterfinals in Paris and the second round at the AELTC.
Also, Matkowski, playing with Max Mirnyi of Belarus, had gone up against Lukasz Kubot at the recent Canadian Open in Toronto.
Professional tennis may throw up interesting combinations, but when it comes to representing nations in the Olympics, no quarter will be given or asked for.
The winner of the match will play the pre-quarterfinals against either Czechs Lukas Rosol and Radek Stepanek or the eighth seeded Spaniards Roberto Bautista Agut and David Ferrer.
Paes and Bopanna figure in the top quarter with No.1 seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France. When two world-class players get together, a lot can happen. That will be the hope when Paes and Bopanna get on court.
In the women’s doubles, the expectations may be a lot lower, owing to the big gap between the World No.1 Sania Mirza and the 192nd ranked Prarthana Thombare, even though the duo had won the Asian Games bronze in Incheon against the odds.
Sania and Prarthana will meet the tough Chinese duo of Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai in the first round. A victory might fetch them a pre-quarterfinal against the sixth-seeded Czech pair of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.
The doubles matches, to a cynical observer, will serve as warm-up for both Sania and Bopanna for the 16-team mixed event, the draw for which will be made soon.
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