A solitary entry was positioned beside the phrase ‘India’ when the International Tennis Federation (ITF) finalised the record of gamers eligible to compete on the Tokyo Olympics. The ladies’s doubles workforce of Sania Mirza, who will probably be competing in her fourth Games – a file for Indian ladies – and debutant Ankita Raina would be the solely contributors within the sport from the nation on this version. For the primary time for the reason that sport was reinstated on the Olympics in 1988, there will probably be no Indian males’s doubles workforce.
India’s prime two males’s doubles specialists, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan didn’t make the mixed rating cut-off that may have earned them a berth on the Games beginning July 23. Bopanna was ranked 38 and Sharan 75 on June 14, when the up to date ATP rankings have been used to find out Tokyo eligibility. Their mixed rank of 113 was too low to earn them a spot within the 32-team draw.
“Considering that we’ve been doing well in doubles for the last so many years, it’s disappointing not having anyone there,” says Zeeshan Ali, who will probably be travelling to Tokyo because the non-playing captain of the workforce.
“It was crucial for a men’s doubles team to make it into the draw because that would have opened up a medal prospect for us in mixed doubles. That was the event we just lost out in during the last Olympics.”
At the 2016 Games in Rio, Bopanna, the 2017 French Open combined doubles champion, had paired up with six-time Grand Slam winner Mirza for the combined doubles occasion. The fourth- seeded duo was a set away from making it to the ultimate – which might have assured at the very least a silver medal. But they misplaced out within the semi-final to the American workforce of Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram. The Indians later misplaced 6-1, 7-5 within the bronze medal match to Czech workforce Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka.
Preparation to no avail
Since then, Bopanna had paired up with Sharan to win the 2018 Asian Games gold medal. The two additionally determined to workforce up for 2 occasions main as much as Wimbledon, and the grass-court Grand Slam as effectively. At the identical time, Bopanna is partnering Mirza within the combined doubles occasion at Wimbledon.
Bopanna and Mirza would have paired up once more at Tokyo, however a combined doubles workforce can solely be shaped by gamers who had certified in both the singles or males’s/ladies’s doubles occasion.
“The players had been preparing themselves better for (the Olympics this year) since Sania and Rohan are playing together at Wimbledon. That would have been ideal preparation, getting a couple of matches in before heading out to the Olympics,” Ali says.
“They were doing all the right things to prepare, even Rohan and Divij playing men’s doubles together before and at Wimbledon.”
Having no males’s workforce on the Olympics sees the game at a crucial stage within the nation. This is all of the extra vital contemplating that the one spot accessible for an Indian workforce at Tokyo, within the ladies’s doubles, got here by means of solely due to Mirza’s protected rating of 9 (prime 10 doubles gamers earn a direct entry into the primary draw with a top-300 compatriot of their selection).
“It just goes to show that we need more players in the top 100 if we want to guarantee our spot in the Olympics, or the World Group in Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup,” Ali provides.
“Only then can we assure our spot in these occasions with out leaving something to probability or luck. Once that occurs, we are able to neglect about considering whether or not our workforce will make it, however quite what we’re going to be doing. The focus shifts.
“We’ve just been living in the shadows of Mahesh (Bhupathi), Leander (Paes) and Sania for a very long time.”