INDIAN CHALLENGE AT WIMBLEDON 2011
The Championships, Wimbledon 2011, the oldest and the most prestigious tennis tournament is already underway in England. Traditionally there has been very little or no participation form India. But over the years, some stellar performances by Indian tennis stars have put India on the global tennis map and this has reflected in the Grand Slams as well.
Some of the most unforgettable tennis moments for India have come at the Wimbledon. As long back as 1954 Ramanathan Krishnan lifted the Boy's Singles title and gave India its first moment of Wimbledon glory. His legacy was continued by his son Ramesh Krishnan who won the Wimbledon Juniors title in 1979. Both the Krishnans played remarkably well in the Gentlemen’s Singles as well with father Ramanathan playing Champions Neal Fraser and Rod Laver and son Ramesh reaching the quarterfinals in 1986. The father-son duo brought India on the international radar but unfortunately there was no one else to carry forward their legacy for a long, long time.
In 1999 the Indian pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati won the Men’s Doubles and not only brought India back on the tennis charts but also into the Indian consciousness.
It has been 12 years now and, the Indian Express as they are fondly called, are back to SW19 with one aim – to replicate their success. But unlike 1999, they are not the only Indians battling it out on the grass courts. Today we have a lot more Indian players taking up tennis and reaching up to compete at the highest level.
This year, apart from Lee-Hesh, there are three other Indian players – Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza will be leading the Indian charge in both Singles and Doubles Championships along with Rohan Bopanna in the Men’s Doubles.
Somdev Devvarman has already managed to reach the second round after his German opponent Denis Gremelmayr retired hurt midway through the second set and will be meting No 18 seed Mikhail Youzhny of Russia. He is playing in the Doubles draw where he has teamed up with Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
Sania Mirza has unfortunately lost in the first round itself to Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano during which match she aggravated her knee injury due to which she is doubtful to play her Doubles match with Russian partner Elena Vesnina with whom she was the runner-up at this year’s French Open. She has previously reached the second round here in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 in the Single’s Draw and quarterfinals in 2008 in the Double Draw.
Rohan Bopanna along with his partner Aisam-ul-Quereshi from Pakistan is seeded fourth in the Men’s doubles Draw and had reached the quarterfinals last year. Both have been quite a successful doubles pair this year winning their first championship at Halle.
Paes-Bhupati of course have been India’s long standing tennis icons and are seeded third at this year’s Men’s Doubles draw.
Although it is heartening to see a lot more Indians at major tennis tournaments today, the country is still waiting for one player who will rise to individual tennis glory. No Indian player has ever won a Single’s championship at any Grand Slam, and has not even come close to it. Though Paes and Bhupati and have won a number of Grand Slam Trophies in Men and Mixed Doubles with both each other and other players, India still hasn’t been able to make its mark in the Singles Championships. Here is hoping that we get to see that day soon when an Indian will be among the seeded players at a Grand Slam’s Singles championships. Till then lets cheer for Somdev, Bopanna, Paes and Bhupati!