It is up to Sania Mirza now to decide whether she wishes to partner Leander Paes in the Olympics mixed doubles or pair up with Mahesh Bhupathi instead.
It is up to Sania Mirza now to decide whether she wishes to partner Leander Paes in the Olympics mixed doubles or pair up with Mahesh Bhupathi instead, as she has been handed a wild card entry for the London Games by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) on Tuesday.
Sania will partner Rushmi Chakravarthi, who too was given a wild card, in the women’s doubles. There will be an Indian representation in the men’s singles too, as Somdev Devvarman was also handed an entry into the Olympics draw by the ITF.
However, all eyes will be on Sania now. The final date to submit the entries for the mixed doubles is July 31. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has already announced Sania and Paes as the team for the mixed doubles. But Sania holds the aces. Entries for the 16-team event will be determined from those players already participating in singles or doubles.
With Sania featuring in the doubles draw, she has the right to choose her partner. It is learnt that Sania is keen to partner Bhupathi, with whom she won the French Open title last month. They will be pairing up at Wimbledon too. Paes has been promised a partnership with her by the AITA. However, he too realises how complicated things could get if Sania and Bhupathi enjoy another good outing.
While the decision to hand Sania the wild card was more on the expected lines, Devvarman’s inclusion in the main draw comes as a surprise. He was among the eight players to get wild card entries in singles. The former India No 1, currently ranked 259th in the world, underwent a shoulder surgery in January and has been out of action since. His task won’t be easy at all as this is regarded as the strongest ever field for Olympic tennis, with all top players confirming participation.
Despite Devvarman getting the wild card entry, Paes will have to partner Vishnu Vardhan in the doubles as they, along with Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, have been confirmed as the two doubles teams.
This also means there will be a seven-member Indian tennis contingent for the London Games. The overall Indian contingent now counts 83, the highest ever.