Rio de Janeiro: India’s campaign in tennis at the 2016 Rio Olympics got off to a nightmare start after the teams of Leander Paes-Rohan Bopanna lost their opening men’s and women’s doubles matches, respectively.
Paes, who won bronze in men’s singles in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and Bopanna had a difficult outing in the first round match, going down in straight sets. Bopanna is still in with a shout for a medal as he will partner Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles. Sania Mirza, meanwhile, is also in the fray on Saturday, when she along with Prarthana Thombare will take on Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang in the women’s doubles first round.
The duo were broken thrice in the first set even after being a break up. Up 4-3, after having broken Matkowski-Kubot twice, Paes’ serve was broken as they made it 4-4. It was the first serve that did dump the Indian pair as their success percentage was a mere 48 during the 32 minutes of the first set. Kubot then held his serve making it 5-4 before Bopanna failed to hold his serve, thereby conceding the first set 6-4. Paes-Bopanna fought well for the initial period in the second set as each pair held serve till the 10th game.
In the 11th game, the Indian pair broke the opponents’ serve to make it 6-5 only for Bopanna to lose his serve in the very next game making it 6-6 and taking the set to the tie-breaker. In the tie-breaker, the Polish pair managed a mini-break as they took a 4-1 lead. The Indians then held onto their next two service points to make it 3-4 before getting a mini-break, making it 4-4. The match was on even keel as another mini-break got the Indian pair at 6-5 before the Polish duo reeled off three straight points, including the match-point on the opponent’s serve.
Meanwhile, Sania and Thombare put up a valiant fight against Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai in the women’s encounter but it wasn’t enough. After going down 6-7(6) in the first set, the Indians fought back brilliantly in the second, winning 7-5 to send the match into a decider. The Chinese pair, however, struck back in the third and final set, winning XX to send the Indian duo crashing out of the tournament.