Rio de Janeiro: Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna, who are being touted as India’s best bet for a tennis medal in the Olympics, have been seeded fourth and will be up against the Australian duo of Samantha Stosur and John Peers in their opening mixed doubles.
The pair clinched the Olympics berth on the weight of their doubles rankings in the top 10 on June 6. Currently, Sania is world No. 1 and Bopanna is ranked No. 15. If they get past the Australian duo, the Indians could lock horns with either the Spanish team of David Ferrer and Carla Suarez Navarro or Romania’s Florin Mergea and Monica Niculescu in the quarterfinals.
Four years ago in London, Sania, partnering Leander Paes, made it to the mixed doubles quarter-finals. However, at the Rio Games so far, Indians are yet to impress and have suffered first round defeats in men’s and women’s doubles events. The top billing has been given to France’s Caroline Garcia and Nicolas Mahut.
Sania will be playing in her third Olympics and has the doubles experience of 37 titles, which include six Grand Slam trophies. With medals at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games also in her kitty, Bopanna — playing his second Olympics — couldn’t have asked for a better partner to launch a serious medal challenge in Rio.
Among other big medal prospects are Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza, the Williams sisters from USA and second seeded French pair of Kristina Mladenovic and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Venus Williams has decided to play alongside Indian-American Rajeev Ram.