Bopanna-Middelkoop suffer heartbreaking defeat to bow out of French Open
Paris, Jun 2 (Tennis News) India's Rohan Bopanna and his Dutch partner Matwé Middelkoop saved two match points but their dream run at the French Open ended with a semifinal defeat at the hands of Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer, here on Thursday.
The 16th seeds, Bopanna and Middelkoop, who have played some exhilarating tennis throughout, lost 6-4 3-6 6-7 (8-10) to the 12th seeded pair from El Salvador and the Netherlands in the men's doubles match that lasted two hours and seven minutes.
No Indian has played in a Grand Slam men's doubles final since Leander Paes' 2013 US Open triumph and Bopanna was bidding to become the first Indian in nine years to achieve the feat.
The first and last time Bopanna featured in a Grand Slam final was in 2010 with Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-haq Quereshi, losing the title clash to legendary Bryan brothers -- Bob and Mike.
Rojer's first serve accuracy was a huge factor in the outcome of the match.
While serving for the opening set, Middelkoop was down by two break chances but saved both to make it deuce.
The Dutch player then fired an ace to get to advantage point and Bopanna sealed the set with a backhand volley winner.
Bopanna sent forehand on net at 30-all to face a break point but served big to save that. The Indian's second serve was attacked again in the sixth game that resulted in him facing another break chance but saved that too.
He sealed that game with a stunning cross-court forehand winner that passed Rojer, who was standing in the middle of the court.
The Indo-Dutch pair too earned a break chance when Bopanna found a service return winner off Rojer but their opponents saved it. The 12th seeds though did not miss the crucial chance in the eight game as they broke Middelkoop for a 5-3 lead.
Arevalo served out the set at love to force a decider.
There was no break of serve in the deciding set and Super tie-breaker was required to decide the winner.
Bopanna and Middelkoop fell behind 2-5 with the Indian making three errors -- first an overhead smash, a forehand return error and then a backhand return.
Bopanna and Middelkoop logged four straight points from 2-7 to make it a close affair and even saved two match points but Arevalo converted the third.
With this defeat, India's challenge ended at the clay court major.
Also Read : Marin Cilic reaches French Open semi-final after defeating Rublev
News Source : PTI
With better infrastructure, India will win more Olympic medals in hockey: Kapil Dev
Mumbai, Mar 26 (Hockey News) The legendary Kapil Dev feels cricket reached "new heights" in India due to an upgrade in infrastructure and providing better facilities will help sports like hockey win more medals at the Olympics.
"We as a country need to give the infrastructure first. If we have it, the kids will be free to chose any sport they want," Kapil said.
"Cricket has reached new heights as a result of enhanced facilities. However, if we do the same thing in other sports, such as having 200 extra astro turfs, India will win more Olympic medals in hockey than any other country," he added.
The World Cup-winning captain was speaking at an ABP Network session titled, 'We Are The Champions: Patience, Perseverance, Practice', alongside former India long-jumper Anju Bobby George, ex hockey captain Zafar Iqbal and 18-time Grand Slam champion Leander Paes.
Speaking on the change in the mentality of promoting sports he said, "The most important thing I'll say is that what I have seen in the last 40 years is that today the parents bring their kids on the ground and say 'make them a player'." "In our time, no parents got time to bring their kids to the ground. Today, they come to us and ask whether they can play IPL or if they can play for India?" On the lack of scientific support for athletics, Anju said, "If the parent is not ready to send their kids how we can support them. So, it should come from the parents first, and then scientifically we have to look at that kid.
"First, there is a coach's eye, so we can see and we can tell if he is talented or not. Then we have to scientifically test them and then we need to identify in which event they are good enough." The 2003 world championship medallist is expecting more medals from female athletes in the upcoming Olympics.
"My academy, Anju Bobby Sports, is nurturing 16 kids, including Shaili Singh, who is currently ranked second in the world at the junior level.
"So, in 2024 or 2028, I'm expecting one of my students to have a podium finish. I'm still chasing my dream. Our female athletes, I feel, are excellent fighters, and we can expect more athletic medals from them." Olympic medallist Paes, said, "I think most people assume winning Olympic medals is about physical fitness. I think most people believe that winning world cups is about technique.
"The majority of people, I suppose, believe that winning World Cups is all about technique. But it's the difference between your two temples that determines whether you win or lose." "Champions have a natural ability to think on their feet. My win-loss record shows that I've lost 74.1 percent of the matches I've ever played." Iqbal, a member of the Olympic gold-winning Indian hockey team, said that after not performing well for thee-four decades the current side has marked the resurgence of India in the sport.
"I would say that we have done tremendously good in hockey particularly if you consider 75 at the beginning of 1948 London Olympics games.
"So, naturally, hockey was on the top in the world also. But as far as hockey is concerned there is no doubt about it that in the last thirty years we could not do much.
"But this team is the best team in the last 30-40 years and it has shown to the world that yes India is coming back in particular in hockey. There is a general increase in the participation in the sports by the people."
Also Read : India to host NZ, Spain in opening ties of FIH Hockey Pro League 2022-23
News Source : PTI
Mahesh Bhupathi watched 'DDLJ' with Leander Paes 'multiple times', says films were a stress buster
Mumbai, Sep 29 (Sports news) Besides tennis, what bonded Mahesh Bhupathi with Leander Paes was their shared interests in food, music and movies, which were a stress buster for them.
Bhupathi, one half of the star tennis duo nicknamed the 'Indian Express', said they spent a lot of time off court watching Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol's 1995 blockbuster "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge" particularly.
"We like the same food, music. We watched a lot of movies together as we were travelling day in and day out for tours. Movies were just like a stress buster for us, I remember we watched 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge' multiple times.
"So, we'd watch English, Hindi movies, whatever we could, because we were working pretty hard so this was kind of an outlet for us. These are things that made the journey much easier," Bhupathi told PTI in a Zoom interview.
The tennis stars, who were the first doubles team from India to win at Wimbledon in 1999, have revisited their journey in the upcoming non-fiction series "Break Point".
Directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari, the ZEE5 non-fiction series explores the on-court partnership of Paes and Bhupathi and their off-court lives.
Bhupathi, 47, said a lot of filmmakers in the past had approached them to make a project revolving around the duo but nothing excited them till Ashwiny and Nitesh turned up.
"When I heard that Nitesh and Ashwiny were interested in talking to us, that was exciting because they're amazing storytellers. That's when I spoke to Leander and we got on a call with Nitesh and Ashwiny, in whom we found that comfort level to tell a story in the way we thought was best for people to consume it," he added.
For Bhupathi, the most special moment from his partnership with Paes is the win at Wimbledon.
"I think the pinnacle of our success was probably winning Wimbledon in 1999. That was a big dream for us and it came true. So that's definitely the highlight." He recalled meeting Paes in Colombo in 1991 and the two soon played their first tournament in 1994 in Jakarta.
"I was excited. We are very different when it comes to personalities. So dreaming is one thing, executing is another. So, for me it was very important to do the hard work and get it done, which we are very proud of," he said.
"Very quickly it became apparent that there was something special there because we were winning a lot of matches," he added.
Bhupathi described Paes (48) as "an unorthodox player", whom he admires.
"He is a great tennis player. He has the ability to kind of raise his game in big moments. He is a serve and volley specialist we don't get to see very often in tennis. Off the court, he is a very generous human being and we struck a friendship very quickly." Also called 'Lee-Hesh', the duo played together from 1994 to 2006 and reunited for their second stint from 2008 to 2011 and brought laurels to India but later they had a public fallout.
Reflecting on their split, Chennai-born Bhupathi said that time period was "tough" for them.
"It was very tough on both of us. Personally, for me I was going through a lot that year because I had surgery on my shoulder. And there were a lot of ifs and buts in my head, like will I be able to play tennis at a high level again? Will I be able to be successful? Because Leander was my first partner coming out of college and I never played with anybody else. So, it was a very tough time but we bounced back pretty well," he added.
During the difficult time, as a professional athlete, Bhupathi said he always kept himself motivated.
"We are always motivated because to achieve anything you have to set aside challenges. There will always be challenges small or big and we should always put in hard work day in and out to try and achieve what we want to." About "Break Point", the tennis player said the series will capture their 12-year journey.
"We have put it all out. We did it independently so we had the comfort level to put it all out there. We've made a big effort to keep it raw and real and hopefully it will be appreciated by everyone who watches it," he said.
The show will begin streaming on Friday.
Also Read : We created a brotherhood: Leander Paes on his successful partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi
News Source : PTI
38th Jr National Softball Championship to be held in Phagwara from Sep 26-30
Phagwara (Punjab), Sep 25 (Sports News) The 38th Junior National Softball Championship for boys and girls will be held in Phagwara from September 26-30 at the Lovely Professional University Campus.
Talking about the tournament, the President of Softball Association of India Neetal Narang thanked the sports ministry for giving extension to hold the pending Nationals till September 2021.
"We thank the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, GOI for giving the National Sports Federations' an extension to hold the Nationals till September 2021 for the events that could not be organised in the year 2020-21 due to the Covid pandemic," Narang said.
She also spoke about the potential of softball as a game in the country.
"Softball has huge potential to carry the legacy of our Olympic achievers and give us reasons to make all Indians proud. We are aspiring to leave no stone unturned to ensure that we not only qualify but also make our mark in the upcoming Asian Games 2022 & LA Olympics 2028," she added..
"Each step that SBAI is taking shall definitely bring us closer to our final destination, the LA 2028 Olympics," she signed off.
Also Read : We created a brotherhood: Leander Paes on his successful partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi
News Source : PTI
We created a brotherhood: Leander Paes on his successful partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi
Mumbai, Sep 24 (Sports News) Many years ago, Leander Paes acted on a whim when he asked Mahesh Bhupathi, "Would you like to win Wimbledon?" and the tennis star says what followed was a partnership that brought many trophies for India.
This "brotherhood" between the two Indian tennis icons, who were the first doubles team from the country to win at Wimbledon in 1999, is what the two tennis legends have revisited through ZEE5's non-fiction series "Break Point".
Paes said the audience will get to see a faithful representation of their journey through the series, directed by filmmaker couple Nitesh Tiwari and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari.
"We created a brotherhood. And through ‘Break Point’, you get to see the journey of two young Indian boys and how we conquered the world of tennis, won Wimbledon and became number one in the world," Paes told PTI in an interview.
Once the poster boys for the sport in the country, nicknamed the "Indian Express", Paes and Bhupathi played together from 1994 to 2006 and reunited for their second stint from 2008 to 2011.
Besides the Wimbledon championship that they won in 1999, Paes and Bhupathi also won two French Open titles in 1999 and 2001.
Through "Break Point", Paes said he re-lived all the games that he and Bhupathi played together including the several Grand Slams and the Olympics, while also taking note of the ups and downs of their relationship, among other things.
"One of my favourite memories is when I was 16-year-old playing in Sri Lanka, and Mahesh was 15, playing at the same Asian championships. So when I saw him, I had an intuition that we could win Wimbledon together and we could be number one in the world.
"So I watched him play for about 15 minutes and when he came off the court he had a big smile on his face and I shook his hand. I said, 'I am Leander.' and he said, 'I know and I have been following you'. And then I said, 'Thank you, but would you like to win Wimbledon?'" Paes said.
He recalled that Bhupathi was taken aback by what he said and started laughing.
"He said, 'You're crazy.' I said, 'I am crazy. Would you like to win Wimbledon?' And the rest is history," added Paes, who as a singles player had famously won the bronze medal in tennis at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
What Paes respects a lot about Bhupathi is that he believed in his dreams and worked hard for them.
"I think that what we've achieved together has created some world records as we are unbeaten in the Davis Cup in 24 matches, we played so many Olympics together.
"We've been number one in the world together. So I really respect the hard work that you put into believing in that dream." Their partnership, however, was marred by a public fallout in 2012 ahead of the London Olympics but Paes said they have put that past behind them and moved on in their lives.
He described the show as quite "real" and "raw".
"We are very true to telling the story of how we were pioneers at the time because there was no manual to teach us how to be the best in the world.
"And it also shows our mistakes, the downfalls that we had, the things that possibly we did wrong that we could have done better." Personally, for him, his win at Atlanta Olympics is a moment closer to his heart as it seemed like emulating his Olympian father Vece Paes.
The tennis star felt that one of the key reasons why they chose to narrate their own story through "Break Point" is that they wanted to share a true story.
"One of the reasons we didn't choose actors and told it directly from our own mouths and our own stories…and also we got our parents, siblings, friends and opponents that we played against, like the Bryan twins, the Woodies, Martina Hingis, Radek Stepanek, Mark Knowles.
"I'm really appreciative of all of them coming and taking part in ‘Break Point’," he said.
Praising Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari, Paes said the directors have gone beyond the game and tapped into the human aspect.
"Through all the episodes, they take you through a journey of human emotions. They show you how champions are built, how Champions also make mistakes and that they are human also.
"They show you how winning Wimbledon on one day might make you the king of the world but the next day you are vulnerable too,” he added.
Paes is grateful to the director duo, writer Piyush Gupta and the streaming platform ZEE5 for giving them the platform to narrate their story in multiple languages.
"It's been one phenomenal journey. We proved that if you work hard and if you believe in yourself, have the courage to believe in your dreams, you can be world champions, for sure.
"With this show, we can actually reach the masses to inspire them that if these two can win Wimbledon then you can also be a champion of the world in anything you want to." "Break Point" will stream on ZEE5 on October 1.
Also Read : Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Neeraj Chopra meets Abhinav Bindra
News Source : PTI
Davis Cup: Indian players need to give their all against Finland
Espoo (Finland), Sep 16 (Tennis news) India's singles players will need to back their talent with some killer instinct for the team to emerge victorious against a reasonably strong Finland in the Davis Cup World Group I tie, starting here on Friday.
Prajnesh Guneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan have the experience of playing the big matches.
They have rubbed shoulders with better players but it's time for them to move forward from playing mere close matches. They need to deliver that knockout punch that will take India to the next year's Qualifiers.
If Ramkumar can play the same way he competed against 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic in the previous tie against Croatia and does not miss the chances he gets, India will have a very good chance in the tie.
As the second-best ranked player from India, Ramkumar will be up against Finland's number one player Emil Ruusuvuori, who is placed 74 in the world, on the opening day of the tie.
If Ramkumar takes the court first and puts India on board, that will be a huge result for the visitors and take the pressure off Prajnesh (ranked 165) who will most likely compete against Otto Virtanen (ranked 419).
Prajnesh too gets close to wins with his talent but has the tendency of giving up advantageous positions, like the one against Borna Coric in the last tie against Croatia.
Maybe it's pressure of playing for the flag but the left-hander from Chennai insists it is not the case.
"Matches against good players are always close if I'm playing well. I have won matches against good players being in the lead and I have also lost matches being in the lead. That's just the way they go," Prajnesh told PTI.
"Matches which are closely fought can go either way. There is no pressure of playing for India that influences me...Sometimes there's more pressure, other times that's less.
"Again, just depends on how well I cope on that particular day," he added.
India considered the doubles point in their pocket till the time Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi competed together but now things have changed.
Rohan Bopanna (44) has immense experience of the big stage and he needs to use all of that to shepherd the team with Divij Sharan (86) since their opponents -- Henri Kontinen (ranked 46) and Harri Heliovaara (ranked 76) -- will be a tough nut to crack.
Bopanna and Sharan have played only one tie together, winning against Italy in March 2019.
Most of 40-year-old Bopanna's doubles wins have come either with either Paes or Saketh Myneni.
It remains to be seen if captain Rohit Rajpal fields Bopanna with Sharan or Myneni, who is the fifth member of the squad.
Kontinen has played three of the four Grand Slams this year with Edouard Roger-Vasselin but paired with Heliovaara at the US Open, probably to get ready for this tie.
They had a decent first round before losing in a close three-set match.
Non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal feels that the conditions are not entirely in the favour of the hosts since the low bounce of the courts will benefit the Indian players, who can play the chip-and-charge game to counter their rivals.
Also Read : Low bounce, not-so-fast court surprises Indian Davis Cup team in Finland
News Source : PTI
So near yet so par: India's love affair with fourth-place finish at Olympics continues with Aditi Ashok's heartbreak
New Delhi, Aug 7 (Olympic news) They say fourth is the worst place to finish in the Olympics. If last is the most embarrassing, fourth is the most painful. When one endures it by the narrowest of margins, and in a sport like golf, it can't get any worse.
Aditi Ashok experienced that excruciating pain on Saturday, and with it, post-independent India's tryst with fourth-place heartbreaks at sport's grandest stage continued, the run beginning way back in 1956.
"You don't want to join that club," Aditi said, but joined she did, after missing out on what would have been a landmark medal.
"But I guess I've joined it. But no, I think it's good, just even top 5 or top 10 at an Olympics is really good." In golfing parlance it was a case of 'so near and yet so par'.
A day before, the Indian women's hockey team went through exactly the same heartbreak, losing 3-4 to Great Britain in the bronze play-off.
With her mother carrying the bag, Aditi was a step away from adding one of the finest chapters to the country's Olympic history, but eventually ended up joining a list, which includes some of the country's greatest athletes, that no sportsperson wishes to be part of.
Here is a look at the instances when India came close but ended at just that.
#It all began at the 1956 Games in Melbourne, where the Indian football team made the semifinals after beating hosts Australia 4-2 in the quarterfinals, with Neville D'Souza becoming the first Asian to score a hat-trick at the Games.
By giving his team the lead, Neville looked like doing an encore in the last-four clash against Yugoslavia, who came back strongly in the second half to seal the contest in their favour.
In the bronze medal classification match, India could not recover from the blow they received against Yugoslavia, losing to Bulgaria 0-3, drawing to a close an eventful few days which the great P K Banerjee would often reminisce about.
#Four years later, at the 1960 Games in Rome, another heartbreak awaited India as the legendary Milkha Singh missed out on a bronze by the narrowest of margins.
Competing in the 400 metres final and touted as a medal contender, the 'Flying Sikh' fell short by a mere 1/10th of a second after slowing down to see his fellow competitors, an error that he would regret for the rest of his life.
This would go down as his life's worst memory after his parents were killed in the aftermath of the partition.
Milkha almost gave up the sport after that loss and it required a lot of persuasion for him to hit the track again and win two gold medals in the 1962 Asian Games.
#A little more than four decades before the players of current Indian women's hockey team endured the agony of narrowly missing out on a medal, their predecessors had gone though a similar experience when they lost their last match to erstwhile USSR 1-3 to finish behind Zimbabwe, Czechoslovakia and the Russians.
With top hockey nations such as the Netherlands, Australia and Great Britain boycotting the 1980 Moscow Games over the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan, the Indians had a great chance to finish on the podium in their their first attempt itself, but all they could manage was the fourth position.
#The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles brought back memories of Milkha in Rome when P T Usha missed the 400-metre hurdles bronze by 1/100th of a second, making it the closest-ever miss for an Indian athlete in any competition.
Known as the 'Payyoli Express', she ended up fourth behind Romania's Christina Cojocaru, but her heroic effort left a lasting impression and she became a household name.
The 400-metre hurdles was introduced for the first time in LA, raising hopes of a podium for the fancied Indian.
#After a long gap of 20 years, the curse of the fourth place finish returned to haunt the Indian contingent when the celebrated duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi missed out on the podium at the Athens Games in 2004.
Arguably India's greatest tennis doubles pair, Paes and Bhupathi missed out on a bronze medal after losing a marathon men's doubles match to Croatia's Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic 6-7 6-4 14-16 to end fourth.
Before that, the Indian pair went into semifinals as favourites but lost to the German duo of Nicholas Kiefer and Rainer Schuttler in straight sets 2-6 3-6.
At the same Games, Kunjarani Devi, who had inspired Tokyo Olympics silver-medallist Mirabai Chanu to take up the sport, finished fourth in women's 48 kg weightlifting competition, but she was not really in medal contention.
Disqualified in her final attempt to lift 112.5 kg in the clean and jerk category, Kunjarani finished with overall 190 points, 10 points behind bronze medallist Aree Wiratthaworn of Thailand.
#At London 2012, shooter Joydeep Karmakar experienced the terrible feeling of finishing a place behind the bronze medal winner.
Karmakar had finished seventh in the qualification round of men's 50-metre rifle prone event, and in the finals, he ended just 1.9 points behind the bronze medal winner, Rajmond Debevec of Slovenia.
Also read: Bajrang Punia wins Olympics Bronze; beats Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov 8-0
#In 2016, when the Olympics was held in Rio de Janeiro, Dipa Karmakar became the first Indian woman gymnast to compete at the Games. After making the final of the women's vault event, Karmakar finished fourth overall with a score of 15.066 and missed the bronze medal by 0.150 points.
She introduced the sport to India and gave the message that one doesn't have to be born in the USA or Russia to become an excellent gymnast.
At the same Games, Abhinav Bindra's illustrious career was headed for a fairytale finish but a shooter of even his class was not spared of the curse of the fourth place finish, as he missed the bronze medal by a whisker, eight years after his historic gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
News source: PTI
Bopanna retains place in Indian team for Davis Cup tie against Finland in September
New Delhi, Aug 6 (Tennis news) Doubles exponent Rohan Bopanna on Friday retained his place in the Indian Davis Cup team despite his recent run-in with the national federation, which named a five-member squad for the upcoming World Group I away tie against Finland.
Expectedly, all top three singles players of the country -- Prajnesh Gunneswaran (ranked 158), Sumit Nagal (159) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (204) -- have been picked for the September 17-18 tie, which will be held on indoor courts in Espoo Metro Areena in Espoo city.
The AITA selection committee had a virtual meeting on Thursday to decide on the team.
Rohit Rajpal will be the non-playing captain of the side and Zeeshan Ali the coach.
Bopnna, ranked 40, will have his doubles partner in Divij Sharan, ranked 82.
The duo could not qualify for the ongoing Tokyo Olympics due to low combined rank.
In the last tie against Croatia which India lost 1-3, Bopanna had paired with Leander Paes. Rest is the same squad.
Bopanna had accused the All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) secretary general Anil Dhupar of misleading him and the nation by claiming that the ITF had accepted his and Sumit Nagal's entry for the doubles competition of the Tokyo Games.
Bopanna made public his telephonic conversation with Dhupar, putting the audio recording on his twitter page.
Finland has one higher-ranked singles player in Emil Ruusuvuori, who is placed 69th in the ATP chart, while it does not have a player inside top-100.
Finland also has two decent doubles players in Henri Kontinen and Harri Heliovaara, who are ranked 39 and 38 respectively.
Also read: Sania and Ankita lose to Ukranian Twins as World number one shocked in Singles
Selection committee member Balram Singh told PTI that the recent controversy regarding Bopanna was not discussed by the members.
"There are former players in the committee and they know the value of a doubles rubber point in Davis Cup. Rohan, being our top player, was a natural choice," Balram said.
"It was just a matter of misunderstanding that a controversy erupted," he said.
The winner of the tie will qualify for the Qualifiers in 2022 while the losing teams will compete in the play-offs to retain their place in World Group I next year.
News source: PTI
Day 2: India’s highs and lows at Tokyo Olympics
1) India’s first medal at Tokyo Olympics, credits to weightlifter Mirabai Chanu
Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu gave India its first medal at the Tokyo Olympics as she won silver in the 49 kg category. Despite failing to lift 89 kg successfully, Chanu lifted 84kg and 87 kg for the second spot.
With this accomplishment, Chanu ended India’s 21 year old wait for an Olympic medal in weightlifting and set a new record by improving on Karnam Malleswari’s bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games.
2) India’s win against New Zealand hockey team
Eight time Olympic champions India defeated New Zealand 3-2 thanks to Harmanpreet Singh’s brace from penalty corners and Rupinder Singh’s penalty stroke conversion, to begin their Olympics campaign with a win.
Despite trailing due to Kane Russell’s opening goal, the Indian men’s hockey team showed true spirit and teamwork not just in attack but also in defense to ward off the New Zealand attempts. Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh displayed some fantastic saves to deny the Kiwi’s an opportunity for a late equalizer in a compact defensive performance.
India will now face Australia with rejuvenated confidence after this solid performance.
3) Table tennis Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherji’s separate wins in women’s singles Tennis
Indian table tennis player Sutirtha Mukherjee had a nail biting fight for the win against Sweden’s Linda Bergström wherein the former was losing 3 games to 1 and made a mindblowing comeback.
Batra cruised to victory with the score of 4-0. Manika, the top Indian Table Tennis player is ranked at 63 in the world, beat British paddler Tin Tin Ho.
4) Nagal’s win in men’s singles badminton
Sumit Nagal started off his Olympic Campaign with a win over Dennis Istomin at Tokyo. It's perfect for Indian tennis as he is the only Singles player from India in the Tokyo Olympics, although he joined in late and has impressed us with his win over the former world number 33. It was a 2 and half hour three setter and gave us our first victory in Singles since 25 years when Leander Paes won the Bronze at Atlanta in 1996. Nagal will next play Danii Medvedev and will need to play at his best to topple the Russian in the Second Round.
5) Indian duo Chirag Shetty/Satwiksairaj Rankireddy beating world no. 3
Good news for India in the men’s doubles. Chinese Taipei Y Lee and CL Wang lost the match to Indian duo C Shetty and S Rankireddy. The teams each took a win in the first two games and then there was a close fight for the game that ended in 25-27 in favour of the Indian team. The Indians Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty stunned the World No. 3 Chinese Taipei's Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin in a spectacular display of strength.
1) Indian women’s hockey team’s grim score against the Netherlands
The Netherlands women’s hockey team beat the Indian Women 5-1 at Oi Hockey Stadium North Pitch in Tokyo. The goal scoring started early as Felice Albers scored in the 6th minute but that was short lived as India’s Captain Rani Rampal scored the equaliser in the 10th minute. The second quarter did not see goals by either team.
The Indian team then went on to concede 4 consecutive goals to their opponent. There are more matches to come and they will come away stronger from this; we believe in them to do better.
2) Archers Pravin Jadhav, Deepika Kumari out of mixed doubles quarter finals
To say that South Korea have set the archery stage alight would be an understatement and the last minute pairing of Deepika Kumari and Pravin Jadhav were always going to be the underdogs against top seed Korean duo of An San and Kim Je Deok.
Playing together for the first time in an International event, Deepika and Jadhav lost 2-6 in a woefully inconsistent performance where World Number 1 Deepika failed to notch a single perfect 10 from eight arrows while Jadhav could not capitalize on the crucial fourth set by misfiring six despite getting three perfect 10s.
3) Judoka Sushila Devi defeated
Indian Judoka Sushila Devi’s path to an Olympic medal was cut short when she lost her fight to Hungarian Eva Csernoviczki, who qualified for Saturday's round of 16 match against Funa Tonaki of Japan. Sushila stood strong for the majority of the fight until she made a minor slip that proved costly for the Indian and cost her the contest.
Csernoviczki, a bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, pinned Sushila for a full 20 seconds to win the Ippon and the round of 32 match.
4) Saurabh Chaudhary disappoints after raising expectations; Elavenil Valarivan and Apurvi Chandela fail to qualify in shooting event
Saurabh Chaudhary, an Indian medal contender, could not repeat his qualifying performance and finished seventh in the men's 10m air pistol final at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday. An hour after topping the qualifiers with a mind-blowing performance at the Asaka Range, the Indian ace shot 137.4 and was eliminated in seventh place.
Indian shooters Aprurvi Chandela and Elavenil Valarivan endured a difficult start in their Tokyo Olympics campaign after failing to qualify for the finals of women’s 10m air rifle. Despite being world number 1, Elavenil finished 16th in the qualifications after shooting 626.5 over six series of 10 shots each in her debut Olympics while the more experienced Apurvi finished 36th after shooting 621.9 at the Asaka range.
5) Badminton player Sai Praneeth loses to lower ranked Zilberman
India's B Sai Praneeth suffered a demoralising straight-game defeat against lower ranked opponent. In a 40-minute encounter, Israel’s Misha Zilberman won 21-17, 21-15. The Indian badminton team is off to a tough start, having lost their first group stage match in men's singles.
Praneeth, who won bronze at the 2019 World Championships and is now ranked 15th, was too irregular in a 41-minute match against world number 47 Zilberman.
6) Indian boxer Vikas ousted from Olympics
Vikash Krishnan has lost his first match to Okazawa Sewonrets Quincy Mensah of Japan in the Men’s Welter 63-69kg Boxing at the Tokyo Olympics. He lost 5-0, at the end of the second round he started bleeding from his right eye and needed treatment. The Indian team will have to wait a little longer for an Olympic medal as there are few others who will fight it out for a podium finish.
7) Indian paddlers duo Manika Batra and Sharath Kamal out of the running for TT mixed doubles
In a game that lasted only 27 minutes, Indian paddlers Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra were knocked out by Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-ju and Cheng I-Ching in straight games 8-11, 6-11, 5-11, 4-11.
The 12th seed pairing of Sharath and Manika could not handle 19 year old Lin Yun-ju’s forehand and backhand topspin drives as the Chinese Taipei duo didn’t allow them to play their game. Despite leading the first two games 5-1 in the first game, Lin and Ching eased past Sharath and Manika with eight consecutive points.
Also read: Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu becomes first Indian to receive medal at the Tokyo Olympics
Nagal becomes only third Indian to win a singles match at Olympic with victory over Istomin
Tokyo, Jul 24 (Olympics news) Sumit Nagal on Saturday became only the third Indian tennis player to win a men's singles match at the Olympic Games and the first in 25 years, when he edged past Denis Istomin in a three-setter, here.
Nagal got the better of Istomin 6-4 6-7(6) 6-4 in two hours and 34 minutes on court 10 at the Ariake Tennis Centre to set up a second round clash with world number two Daniil Medvedev.
Zeeshan Ali was the first Indian to win a singles match at the 1988 Seoul Games when he beat Victo Caballero from Paraguay.
After that, the legendary Leander Paes won the historic men's singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games, beating Brazil's Fernando Meligeni.
No Indian could win a singles match after Paes' heroic feat even as Somdev Devvarman and Vishnu Vardhan competed at the 2012 Games in London but did not manage to cross the first round hurdle.
"To lose second set from 5-3 and then comeback in the third set in a weather like this, is not easy. Playing for my country gave me the push. I am not sure what I would have done If I were playing at the Challenger, I came out happy from the court," said Nagal after the match.
"It was really hot and humid, weather was terrible, specially when you play around 12 (noon). So we were trying to focus on our serves, it's challenging and I am trying to adpat from clay to hard courts," he added.
Nagal now faces a herculean task as he takes on Australian Open runner-up Medvedev, who beat Kazakhstan's Alexander Bubilk 6-4 7-6(8).
"I am very excited for this match to play the world number two on a big court. That's why we play tennis for, to live for these moments. I am looking forward to it," he said.
The 23-year-old Nagal, who did not come into the Games in his best form, had a break opportunity in the sixth game of the opening set but could not convert.
Also read : Nagal comes through in three sets against Istomin in Tokyo
The Indian, though, did not squander the opportunity when Istomin was serving to stay in the set.
An early break pushed Nagal ahead 2-0 in the second set in which he raced to a 4-1 lead but perhaps nerves got the better of him when he was serving for the match, up 5-3, and dropped his serve.
The experienced Istomin forced a decider by prevailing in the tie-breaker.
The final set was on serve till Nagal got the decisive break.
News source: PTI
Nagal comes through in three sets against Istomin in Tokyo
Sumit Nagal started off his Olympic Campaign with a win over Dennis Istomin at Tokyo. It's perfect for Indian tennis as he is the only Singles player from India in the Tokyo Olympics, although he joined in late and has impressed us with his win over the former world number 33. He started off strong winning the first set in 42 minutes,in the second set Nagal was leading 5-2 but Istomin fought back and at one stage Nagal was two points away from a victory. The second set was a long one as only a tiebreak could finish it, in the tiebreak Istomin was leading 5-2 but Nagal this time made a comeback and made it 6 all. Istomin finally took the set in over an hour and 11 minutes.
Also read: Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu becomes first Indian to receive medal at the Tokyo Olympics
The third set both the players were going head to head until Nagal broke Istomin's serve and served out the match by finishing it in 41 minutes. It was a 2 and half hour three setter and gave us our first victory in Singles since 25 years when Leander Paes won the Bronze at Atlanta in 1996. In olympic 2021 live update, Nagal will next play Danii Medvedev and will need to play at his best to topple the Russian in the Second Round.
Looking at India’s medal winning performances at the Olympic Games
As there is only 24 hours to go, Indian athletes will look forward to bringing back a couple of medals and inspire all of us back at home. India has competed in every Olympics since the start. The Hockey men’s team has been the most successful with five Golds, one Silver and three bronze medals. India is predicted to put up a record performance this Olympics. With international champions in many events competing, Indians will put up a show and try to surpass their London performance. Wrestling has been strong for the country and also shooting. In Olympic news, tomorrow is the Opening Ceremony and Tokyo will be looking forward to being the host for the Champions.
1948 London Olympics
India participated in the Olympics for the first time as an independent nation. Out of the 79 athletes all of them were men. India won its first medal at the Olympics in men’s hockey, they won the Gold after defeating Great Britain 4-0 in the finals. It was their only medal in that Olympics.
India fielded women athletes for the first time in the Olympics, four female athletes competed as two were in athletics and the other two were in swimming. Arati Saha competed in the 200m breaststroke event and she was the youngest in the team aged 12 years, Dolly Nazir competed in the 100m Freestyle and 200m Breaststroke. Nilima Ghose was the first Indian woman track athlete, she was 17 years old when she competed in the Olympics and competed in the 100m and 80m hurdles in which she finished 5th. Mary D'Souza Sequeira also participated in the 100m and 200m, she had won a silver in the 100m relay team and bronze in the 200m at the Asian Games 1951 in Delhi. She is also the first double international from India as she had also represented the hockey team in 1953 and 1956.
It was also the first time that India had won two medals in Olympics, Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav won the first individual medal for India as he took the bronze in Men's freestyle bantamweight. The hockey men’s team won its second gold as they easily beat Netherlands 6-1 in the finals. India ended the games with one Gold and one Bronze.
The men’s team achieved a hatrick of Gold medals in Hockey as they defeated arch rival Pakistan 1-0 in the finals. This was Milkha Singh’s first Olympics where he competed in the 200m and 400m. Mary Leela Rao was the Only women competitor from India as she competed in the 100m. The Indian Football team finished a historic fourth as Neville D'Souza finished joint highest goalscorer in the tournament. India finished with one Gold medal in the games.
The 1960 Olympics will be remembered for Milkha Singh as he came real close to winning a medal in the Men’s 400m. He finished fourth in the final although was leading the race in the start. The men’s hockey started well as they thrashed Denmark 10-0 in their opening match but came up short in the final losing to Pakistan 0-1, this was the first time they had to settle for a silver in the Olympics. India also had no women representation for the second time at the Olympics and finished the games with one Silver medal.
The men’s hockey team won their fourth Gold medal by defeating Pakistan 1-0, the two teams were facing each other in the final for the third consecutive time. There was only one Women competitor this time, Stephie de Souza competed in the 400m and set a national record of 58 seconds. She had won a silver in the 200m at the Tokyo Asian Games in 1958 and was the first Indian woman to run the 100m in 12 seconds. India finished with one Gold medal in the games.
The men’s hockey team finished third for the first time. They had lost to Australia in the semifinals 1-2 and in the Bronze medal match defeated West Germany 2-1. No women competitors were there for the third time. They finished the games with one Bronze medal.
Also read: Amid COVID gloom, could it be 'India Shining' in Tokyo? All indications say yes
The Olympics was known as the Munich Massacre as 8 Palestinian Terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes, coaches and officials. The games were carried on after the attack as it shocked the entire world. Kamaljeet Sandhu was the lone women athlete from the country as she took part in the 400m, she had earlier won the gold in the 1970 Asian Games and became the first indian woman athlete to win individual gold in Asian Games. The men’s hockey team finished third for the second time. They lost to Pakistan in the semifinals 2-0 and in the Bronze medal match defeated Netherlands 2-1. India finished with one Bronze medal in the Games.
This was the first time that the men's hockey team returned without a single medal in the Olympics. There were no women competitors for the fourth time and the first time the country returned without an Olympic medal.
This was the first time P.T Usha competed in the Olympics and the first time Women’s hockey was included in the Olympics. The men’s hockey team won the gold defeating Spain 4-3 in the final. India finished with One gold medal in the Games.
After 44 years India finally won an Individual Olympic medal as Leander Paes won the bronze in Tennis in Men’s Singles. This was also the first medal after the Gold in men’s hockey in 1980. India finished with one Bronze medal in the Games.
History was created in Sydney as Karnam Malleshwari won the Bronze in the 69 kg women’s weightlifting category. She became the first woman from India to win an Olympic medal. India finished with one Bronze medal in the Games.
A new milestone was created in the Games as India won its first Individual Silver in the Olympics. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore finished second in Men’s Shooting in Double trap as this was the only medal in the games. India finished with one Silver medal in the Games.
This was the first time India won multiple medals in a single Games. Abhinav Bindra won the first individual Gold for India at the Olympics in Men's 10 m air rifle and the first Gold medal after the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Vijender Singh won the Bronze in the Middleweight 75 kg men’s boxing, Sushil kumar took the third medal in Men's freestyle 66 kg wrestling. India finished the games with one Gold and two Bronze medals.
This is India’s best Olympic performance till date with 6 medals. Vijay Kumar won the Silver in Men's 25 m rapid fire pistol, Sushil Kumar won the Silver men's freestyle 66 kg wrestling and became the only Indian Olympian to win two individual medals. Mary Kom won the Bronze in the women's flyweight Boxing, Saina Nehwal won India’s first Badminton medal a Bronze in the women's singles. Yogeshwar Dutt also won a Bronze in the men's freestyle 60 kg wrestling and Gagan Narang won a Bronze in men's 10 m air rifle in shooting. India finished with four Bronze and two Silver medals.
2016 Rio de Janeiro
India won two medals in the Rio Olympics 2016, as the men came home empty handed. PV Sindhu became the youngest Indian Olympic medalist by winning the silver medal in women’s singles badminton, Sakshi Malik won the bronze in women's freestyle 58 kg. India finished with two medals in the games with one Silver and one Bronze.
AITA to refer Bopanna's recording act to ethics committee, makes pubic correspondence with ITF
New Delhi, Jul 20 (Sports news) Rohan Bopanna's act of making public his conversation with All India Tennis Association (AITA) secretary general Anil Dhupar will be referred to its ethics and managing committee, the sports body said on Tuesday.
AITA also released its complete correspondence with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) concerning the qualification of India's men doubles team for the Tokyo Olympics.
Seeking to clear the air around the negative perception created by comments of Bopanna and Sania Mirza, the AITA put on record how it aggressively pursued the case of Bopanna and Divij Sharan for an entry into the Games, between June 28 and July 16.
The e-mail correspondence revealed that on July 2, AITA demanded a clarification from ITF on how the world body gave entry to USA (CR 118), Spain (CR 170) and Portugal (CR 204) in the men's doubles despite the fact that their combined rank was below Bopanna and Sharan's rank of 113.
Another correspondence revealed that AITA pleaded with ITF to consider Bopanna and Sharan's feat of the 2018 Asian Games for an entry.
The ITF, though, back in 2018, had announced that only the singles winners would be given the Asian Continental quota.
AITA made public the correspondence after Bopanna tweeted a video of a call-recording in which Dhupar was heard saying the ITF had accepted Bopanna and Sharan's entry in the men's doubles.
Dhupar was heard telling Bopanna to "keep his fingers crossed, maybe we get good news (of qualification) tomorrow." When specifically asked by Bopanna if his and Sharan's entry has been accepted, Dhupar replied in an affirmative.
Bopanna's contention was that why the AITA gave him false hopes of qualification.
"This act of recording a call and making it public will not be accepted. The matter will be looked into by AITA's managing committee and the ethics committee," Dhupar told PTI.
"The two committees will decide if a disciplinary action is required against Bopanna." Dhupar said the "unfortunate" episode may change the way the federation deals with the players.
"I am afraid that it is a possibility we will interact with the players only through e-mails, so that everything is crystal clear. They can't go on recording calls and making it public.
"I will not be surprised if other sports federation also take note of what Bopanna did and start communicate with their players in a different way," he said.
Asked if Bopanna would be considered for selection in India's Davis Cup team, Dhupar refused to comment.
"I can't say what will happen but if an action is recommended against him, his name will not be given to the selection committee for consideration." The selection committee is usually given 15 names after checking availability of the players to pick a five-man squad.
India next take on Finland in an away tie in September.
The controversy began when it to came light that AITA said it has withdrawn Sharan and has paired Bopanna with Sumit Nagal so that India can have a better chance to qualify for the men's doubles.
Also read: AITA says why did Bopanna not qualify on his own after player accuses it of misleading on nomination
The ITF cited rules to say that a change was not possible and that even if India were to pair Bopanna with Nagal, the new pairing would not qualify.
The AITA though remained optimistic that more withdrawals may push the Indian team in the competition. Dhupar said they even had asked for a wild card for Leander Paes so that the legendry player could get a record eighth appearances at the Olympic Games.
"We wanted that Leander gets this unprecedented feat but ITF told us that there were no wild cards this time. We fought for Bopanna and Sharan also but unfortunately they could not get in. It was not our fault that they could not qualify due to their rankings," he said.
In the release, AITA also did not appreciate Sania saying that a medal chance in the mixed team has been sacrificed.
"Even the comments of Sania Mirza are most inappropriate, because there was no possibility of her being able to partner Rohan in the Mixed Doubles event till he qualified.
"Ranking of Rohan with Divij or Sumit Nagal were not good enough for qualification. So how did we we lose an opportunity to win medals either in men’s doubles or mixed doubles.
"This tweets and statements of Mr. Bopanna are condemned unequivocally by the AITA," the statement read.
News source: PTI
Memoirs of a Brigadier: Chef de Mission's Mission Impossible
New Delhi, Jul 16 (Olympics news) Tackling egos, managing resources, enforcing discipline -- sounds difficult? Well, that's the life of a chef-de-mission at the Olympic Games.
The 2012 London edition was India's most successful Olympic outing with half a dozen medals and the contingent's chef-de-mission, Brig (Retd) P K Muralidharan Raja, spoke to PTI about the many back-room challenges he encountered in the job, for which he wasn't even the original choice, at least on record.
"The IOA secretary general Randhir Singh asked me a year before the Olympics, 'Brig Raja, how are you placed to be India's deputy chef-de-mission?' I said I am quite fine for it," Raja recalled.
That was also the time when Indian sport was reeling under the after-effects of the 2010 Commonwealth Games corruption scandal which had led to IOA President Suresh Kalmadi's removal and subsequent jailing along with some other IOA functionaries. V K Malhotra was at the helm of affairs for the national olympic body.
"(Hockey great) Ajit Pal Singh was to be the chef-de-mission. At the same time I was also told that Mr Ajit Pal is not too well. He always had a back ache and lot of other issues. So I was told that officially 'we are making you deputy chef-de-mission but in all probability you will have to take over as chef-de-mission'," the 65-year-old Raja said.
"One reason why they didn't announce my name as chef de mission was that there would have been an uproar in the IOA. Because chef-de-missions were usually people higher up in the hierarchy, like vice presidents or higher. I was an executive committee member at that time, comparatively junior," he revealed.
As it turned out, Ajit Pal was too unwell to make the trip to London, leaving Raja in charge. And the most challenging aspect of his job was to allot accommodation at the Games Village.
"I couldn't have allowed a situation where Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi ended up in the same room," Raja laughed referring to the infamous feud between the two reigning superstars of Indian tennis surrounding who would partner Sania Mirza at the Games.
Eventually, none of them could fetch a medal but there was enough drama before departure to put a soap opera to shame.
Sania had famously lambasted the duo as well as the national federation, saying that she had been used as a bait to placate Paes. Paes had demanded that she be his mixed doubles partner at the Games.
"So with the tennis team, I had to ensure two sets of rooms in which one could go to Mahesh and other to Leander. Had I just left it to the team and told them to divide, there would have been chaos," Raja said.
"People from IOA said why are you putting your head so much to it, just aise chhabi de do, baant denge... That would have led to total chaos. And the Organising Committee was not going to give you a single extra room," he added.
Once that was settled "peacefully", Raja's next challenge came pretty soon -- the "Olympic Mystery Woman" at the opening ceremony.
Clad in a red track suit, Madhura Nagendra walked beside India's flag-bearer Sushil Kumar, leaving the contingent dressed in formals dumbfounded and those watching at home bemused.
"Imagine after doing all the brain-storming to ensure that the requisite number of delegates walk during the ceremony, after so much difficulty, this girl Madhura jauntily walks in and takes away the limelight from us," he couldn't hide his amusement.
"At that time, everyone, including the athletes felt upset. They said we worked so hard to be here and this one girl has taken away all the limelight. She probably didn't realise, she took it as a joke," he said referring to the Bangalore woman who was part of a dance troupe at the ceremony.
"...she was just standing there. She thought 'arre India contingent, my country, let me just join them." The Indian contingent got an apology from the organisers after officially protesting against the security breach.
"But I was the one saddled with questions about how it happened and why it happened. But chalo, that storm also passed," he said.
Aside from this, Raja was also responsible for opening the Indian contingent's bank account in London, ensure documentation for the travelling doctors, liaison with the volunteers allotted to the country's delegation and was also in charge of the cars.
"They give you such fancy cars. And the volunteers could double up as your drivers if you cannot drive yourself. 10-12 vehicles were given to us. The number depends on the size of the contingent," he said.
And it is with managing these vehicles that Raja found his next big headache.
"After first two days, I noticed that vehicles were going missing for whole day altogether, I mean people would go shopping in these vehicles and then I started getting complaints from athletes, 'sir, humko training pe jaana hai, there is no vehicle'," he said.
"...training slots in Olympics are very specific, you cannot change them if you miss your slot," he added.
Raja recalled calling for a meeting of managers after that to get details of their local travel requirements and figure the optimum utilisation of the available vehicles.
"....there were people who wanted dedicated vehicles. One huge name with starry tantrums had her mother there as manager, she wanted a dedicated vehicle, somebody else also wanted that arrangement. Ultimately I said sorry, can't happen," he said.
Also read: IOA names Security Attache B K Sinha as Press Attache of India's Olympic contingent
"I told drivers, that if somebody goes for training for an hour, wait. Otherwise come back and go to pick them closer to the time they are done. Managers started saying 'ye to fauji type kar rahe ho aap'," he laughed again.
"Some IOA people, who were not even staying in Games village, wanted vehicles dedicated to them," he still sounded astonished.
After entertaining them a few times, Raja said he had to say, "I am sorry, it is meant for only athletes and coaches." "The responsibility is mine. They became unhappy with me but I said doesn't matter, I was anyway finishing my tenure as secretary of the boxing federation. So, I would rather do this job properly." Raja said with daily managers' meeting, it was no hassle for him to handle the logistics during the Games.
"Coordination is chef-de-mission's responsibility. In Army, we have this small notebook in which we keep noting down, what's to be done, what's done, all the points. That's how you do it here too," he said.
And what would he say to those wanting to take up the "lucrative" job in future Games? "If you take it seriously and sincerely, life of a chef-de-mission is a very hectic one." At the Tokyo Games, long-serving administrator B P Baishya will be the chef-de-mission with Prem Verma as his deputy.
News source: PTI
Murray seeks a historic third gold medal at Tokyo Olympics against the young forces
With only 9 days to go, the race for the elusive gold medal is heating up with Roger Federer pulling out at the last moment because of the recurring knee injury. The Olympics has always been the toughest hurdle to jump through for the athletes who seek the highest honour in a century old competition. Tennis has been a regular part of the Olympics since 1988 and has been played on different surfaces since its inception. This time it's on hard courts making it fast paced and highly competitive. The matches will begin on July 24th till August 1st.
Nadal, Thiem, Shapovalov, Kyrgios, Wawrinka, Isner won't be playing this year and Djokovic, who is seeking a historic Olympic crown will be on the course of becoming the first male player to win the Golden Slam but after his victory in the Wimbledon, he may or may not play. The Gold medal has been won by Agassi, Nadal and most recently Murray. Players like Federer, Sampras, Djokovic have not stood on top of the podium and this time it will be a rare chance for the debutants to seize the crown. The next gen will see this as the perfect opportunity to take the medal home and make their country proud. In tennis news Medvedev, Zverev and Tsitsipas will be making their debut this time, players like Schwartzman, De Minaur, Auger-Aliassime, Cilic, Monfils are also there to stage an upset in the draw. Since this will be a hard court, it will be a fast paced game and will give an advantage for the heavy hitters such as Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini. Andy Murray has not been in form in recent times after his early exit from Wimbledon and his recent hip surgery which has halted him from his earlier form. The favourite is Murray given his history at the Olympics, but there can be major upsets this time.
Berrettini is in form after finishing runner up in Wimbledon and he can come up strong and hit his hammer forehands across the court. Speaking of hard hitters, Rublev is also not far behind. It is time for him to shine in the big stages of the game and if it is his best day, Rublev can become the second Russian to win a gold medal at this event. Monfils and Cilic have been in the shadows of the big four, they are indeed great players and will be looking for redemption on the court. Many players have lost their prime years to the big four and this time it will be an unpredictable draw and there is a feeling that the underdogs will come out on top. Last time Djokovic lost in the first round, history at the Olympics has not been kind to tennis players who are on top of their game outside the Olympics.
Young players will have their next chances but older players might not be present at the next Olympics. It will be interesting to see who can increase their country’s medal tally. Covid has affected every subject matter in these two years so there will be no spectators around, the players will have to boost their own morale after every point, the crowd chants will be missed and we will have to see the heroics through a screen.
Interesting fact: Leander Paes is the only Indian tennis player to win an Olympic medal. He won bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the men’s singles.
Indian-origin tennis players Samir Banerjee lifts Wimbledon boys' singles title
London, Jul 11 (Tennis news) Indo-American tennis player Samir Banerjee lifted the Wimbledon boys' singles title on Sunday, a remarkable triumph for the youngster who was testing his skills in a Grand Slam for only the second time in his fledgling career.
All of 17, the player from New Jersey just wanted to win a match at the biggest stage in the junior circuit, but little did he know that he would be the last boy standing at the hallowed grass courts.
And that too when he did not have his coach Carlos Esteban with him since his wife had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
Up against compatriot Victor Lilov, the teenager won 7-5 6-3 in the summit clash that lasted one hour 22 minutes. He broke his rival thrice and dropped serve only once in the facile triumph.
"It's going to be amazing, this trophy is going to be my centrepiece, I'm going to look at this and be inspired to keep playing and hopefully come back here as a pro," he was quoted as saying by the Wimbledon website.
"I really just wanted to win a round, I didn't expect this. I had a tough French Open, lost to a good player.
"So here I just wanted to keep my expectations low so that if I passed them, then I'd be happy. But this was way beyond my wildest dreams," he said to a round of applause from the crowd.
Since the coach was unavailable, Banerjee 's uncle Kanad accompanied him.
"My uncle is here, he's not technically a tennis coach, but if these results keep happening then I should start travelling with him more," he said jokingly.
As Lilov's backhand sailed over the baseline on match-point, Banerjee dropped his racquet, put both his hands on his head in disbelief as if to say that this was not what he expected to do but still accomplished.
"Remember the name - Samir Banerjee. The American wins his first junior Grand Slam singles title by beating Victor Lilov in the boys' singles final," the official twitter handle of the Championships posted.
Legendary Indian tennis player Vijay Amritraj congratulated Banerjee.
"Wonderful win for Indian American 17 yr old Samir Bannerjee in the boys singles at Wimbledon 2021. Wish him well for a great future," the 67-year old who reached singles quarterfinals at Wimbledon and US Open tweeted.
Banerjee's father Kunal was born in Assam, and his mother Usha was brought up in Andhra Pradesh before both migrated to the USA in the mid-1980s and got married there.
The youngster, reportedly, will take a break from the tour to enroll for a degree in either economics or political science at the Columbia University in the coming months.
Also read: Mirza-Bopanna pair ousted from Wimbledon Championships
While Banerjee's victory is a testament to the system that US Tennis Association has put in place, India has been struggling to field a worthy contender at junior Grand Slams for some time now.
Due to the lack of a robust domestic circuit and not having enough competitions at home to earn world ranking points, India has been struggling to create the next crop of youngsters.
Yuki Bhambri was the last Indian to win a junior singles title when he triumphed at the Australian Open in 2009 while Sumit Nagal won the Wimbledon boys' doubles event in 2015 with Vietnam's Ly Hoang Nam.
Ramanathan Krishnan was the first Indian to win a junior major when he won the 1954 Junior Wimbledon championship.
His son Ramesh Krishnan won the 1970 junior Wimbledon and junior French Open titles while Leander Paes won the 1990 junior Wimbledon and junior US Open.
Paes was also a runner-up at the junior Australian Open.
News source: PTI
Former tennis players Paes-Bhupathi set to reunite for a web series
Mumbai, Jul 6 (Tennis news) Indian tennis great Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are set to reunite for a new web series, which will narrate interesting stories and share anecdotes from the duo's journey to stardom.
Paes and Bhupathi will be seen in a unique storytelling of their journey and relationship together, created by none other than award-winning husband-wife director duo of Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari.
Paes and Bhupathi were the first Indian pair to win at the Wimbledon in 1999. The speculation about their reunion started after Paes on Sunday posted a picture and wrote a note on Twitter on the 22nd anniversary of their first Wimbledon men's doubles title.
"As two young boys all we dreamt of was making our country proud! Tennis ballSeedlingTrophy @Maheshbhupathi #LeeHesh," Paes had tweeted, to which Bhpathi replied: "Hmmm ..That was special!! Do you think it's time to write another chapter? @Leander#LeeHesh." The pair, nicknamed the 'Indian Express', played together from 1994 to 2006 before re-uniting for a second stint from 2008 to 2011. They also had a public fallout but have put that behind them now.
Also read: Sajid Lodi named captain as India announce team for ITF World Junior Tennis Finals
News source: PTI
Rohan Bopanna, Divij Sharan miss cut for tennis men's doubles event at Tokyo Games
New Delhi, Jun 30 (Tennis news) In a setback to India's medal chances in the tennis event of Tokyo Olympics, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan have missed the cut for men's doubles, which also rules out the country's presence in the mixed team competition, its best chance for a podium finish.
It was expected that with a low combined ranking of 113, Bopanna (38) and left-handed Sharan's (75) entry would depend only on large scale withdrawals.
"The ITF has confirmed that Bopanna and Divij could not be entered as a team in the men's doubles team. However, things might change till July 16 (if there are more withdrawals)," an AITA source told PTI.
When All India Tennis Association (AITA) Secretary General Anil Dhupar was contacted, he said he will be able to give a clear picture only when he has the complete entry list in his hands.
Despite some withdrawals, the cut for 22 teams out of 24 direct acceptances was as high as in mid-60s, according to sources but the final cut-off could not be confirmed.
Even if there are more withdrawals, it will be extremely difficult for India to have a team in men's doubles.
The priority would first be given to singles ranked players, then the singles-doubles combination and then the doubles-doubles ranking combination.
Since many top players are not part of the singles draw, the lower-ranked players, who consistently compete in doubles also, would not miss the chance to play two events at the Olympics.
Each player is allowed to be in two events.
As per rules, only those players can be a part of the mixed team event who are already in one of the main draws (either singles our doubles).
In India's case, it was imperative for Bopanna to be in men's doubles so that he can be paired with Sania Mirza, who is set to compete in her fourth Olympics with Ankita Raina in the women's doubles event.
Sania and Rohan came close to winning a bronze in 2016 but they lost the bronze play-off to Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka in straight sets.
The limited number of opportunities in terms of tournaments due to the COVID-19 lockdown and travel restrictions made it tough for both Bopanna and Sharan to improve their rankings.
Bopanna was ranked 38th at the start of the year while Sharan's ranking only got worse after starting at number 63.
India have never missed out on fielding a men's doubles team at the Olympics ever since a young Leander Paes and Ramesh Krishnan competed at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.
In editions after that, Paes was there mostly with Mahesh Bhupathi. In 2016 Paes and Bopanna competed and lost in the first round. News source: PTI
AITA nominates Ankita, Prajnesh for Arjuna; Balram, Piperno for Dhyanchand
In Sports news, New Delhi, Jun 29 Asian Games bronze medallists Ankita Raina and Prajnesh Gunneswaran have been nominated for the prestigious Arjuna award by the national tennis federation, which has also sent names of Balram Singh and Enrico Piperno for the Dhyanchand honour.
Ankita and Prajnesh both won singles bronze medals at the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang.
Ankita is now country's best-ranked singles (182) and doubles (95) player and is set to make his Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games next month.
"This year we have nominated Ankita and Prajnesh for Arjuna while the names of very respected Balram sir and Enrico Piperno have been sent for life time achievement honour, Dhyanchand," an All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) official told PTI.
The 28-year-old Ankita has been India's key player in the Billie Jean King Cup team for the last three years.
She was nominated for the 'Arjuna' last year also but Asian Games gold medallist Divij Sharan succeeded in bagging the award.
Prajnesh is one of the most mature players in the current Indian generation. Had he not lost five crucial years to knee stress fractures, his career would have been an altogether different story.
The 31-year-old left-hander from Chennai, ranked 148 on the ATP charts, has played five Davis Cup ties for the country.
In the Lifetime achievement category, Balram Singh, who has a 50 year-long association with the Indian tennis, will vie for the honour along with Piperno, who coached the Davis Cup team between 1991-2001 for 27 consecutive ties.
The 73-year-old Balram, one of those extremely shy and non-controversial figures in Indian tennis, coached the Davis Cup teams in 1989 (South Korea) and 1990 (Japan).
He himself reached the junior Wimbledon and junior US Open quarterfinals in 1966.
That he has always preferred to stay away from the limelight and work in the background is evident from the fact that he has applied for an award for the first time.
He also established Balram Singh Trust to support talented junior players. Balram is a member of the senior selection committee and also headed it in the past.
His children -- Ashutosh Singh and Shalini Thakur -- have also played tennis at a good level. While Ashutosh won the Fenesta Nationals and was also a reserve player in the Davis Cup side, Shalini has played the Fed Cup.
The 59-year-old Piperno also has an impressive CV as he himself is an 1982 Asian Games silver medallist was coach of India's first Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi from 1997 to 2003 and also travelled for with legendary Leander Paes.
He was also coach of Indian Fed Cup team between 2000 and 2012 and the national women team at the Asian Games in in Busan (2002), Doha (2006) and Guangzhou (2010).
Last year former Davis Cup coach Nandan bal had won the Dhyanchand award. News Source: PTI
Our dream of winning the tennis Grand Slams can come true if the right sponsorship and training is provided - Anil Dhupar, Secretary General of AITA
Over the years, India has produced some outstanding tennis players. From Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupati, Sania Mirza, Vijay Amritraj and Rohan Bopanna to name a few, the sport has surged in popularity with India’s talent making its mark on the global stage. While the next generation aspires to accomplish greater heights, we’re delving into the world of tennis in India to see what’s in store for the future.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Mr. Anil Dhupar, Secretary General of the All India Tennis Association speaks about the impact of COVID-19 on tennis in India, grassroot development, overcoming challenges, mental health and the future of tennis in the country.
Q 1) The COVID pandemic has disrupted sports around the world, how much of an impact has it had on AITA’s plans?
Ans: The pandemic has really made a lot of impact. After the first wave, we started a theme called ‘Return of Tennis’ which started on November 16th. Even though all the states in India were unable to conduct all the tournaments because of the restrictions given by the local government, we really did a good job at organizing all the tournaments at the junior, nationals, and international level with a prize money of 15,000 USD. Things were going on pretty well until the 2nd wave but since April onwards everything has stopped. There is no tennis, all academies are closed and it’s making a big impact on the junior players who could not be sent to the World Group Qualifying, the wheelchair team which was due to play for the first time in Portugal and similarly there were innumerable sectors that were affected in India. It has definitely impacted India more than other countries, especially in Europe.
Q 2) What is AITA doing at the grassroot level to promote tennis, especially in tier 2 and 3 cities?
Ans: We are conducting almost 600 tournaments in a year for the juniors. The junior category is from 10 years old to 12, 14, 16 and 18 years of age. These are All India Ranked Tournaments and the 12 and 14 year old juniors are sent to participate in the Asia/Oceania group. A child who is representing India is holding the flag as early as at the age of 12. We have the world’s finest scheme for junior tennis players known as the Talent Series Tennis Tournament which is organized for all age groups. When they become well versed with the tournament structure they progress to the Championship Series, Super Series and National Series. That’s how aspiring tennis players are promoted and it helps them develop into a good player. For the first time, we have started a national coaching camp in Delhi this January for 24 participants each amongst boys and girls from different states for a duration of 21 days. Unfortunately things have come to an end right now due to the pandemic.
Q 3) What are the biggest challenges that Indian tennis players face? How can those challenges be overcome?
Ans: There are multiple challenges that are faced by Indian tennis players. We need to have many more national and international tournaments in India which require money and sponsorship, either by corporates, state government or central government so that when Indian tennis players participate, they can get good points. We need to upgrade the tournament structure and have a series of international tournaments even at the junior level from grade 1 to 5. It is absolutely necessary for high ranked tournaments to be played in India so that tennis players in the country get ATP points to play across the world. Tennis is an expensive game and it needs sponsorship for players to travel and compete around the world. Sponsors need to support tennis as a sport and the government must support tournaments and despite the fact that they have started doing it, it's not to the extent that is required. There needs to be more tournaments for all categories. Having tournaments in India will help players save money that would be spent on travelling and would help get entry at the larger tournaments around the world.
Q 4) How is AITA grooming upcoming stars so that they can be competitive at the highest level?
Ans: A lot of tennis academies have come up around the country and there are many coaches that are certified by AITA. The benefits of that are that tennis players at the junior level are properly trained and even senior players are getting the best coaching facilities. We are still insisting to have many more in the years to come. There also has to be a willingness to come up in the grid and progress from the top 300, 200 to 100 in the world. Just like any other sport, passion is very important, not just for tennis players at the junior level but also parents. Parents need to be patient and supportive. We are conducting coaching camps, tournaments and are trying to get our junior players to participate in the Asia/Oceania group to give them more opportunities to participate and know where they stand as players. Even during the COVID times, we get 400 to 500 entries for the Nationals so the participation has grown and the desire to excel is now a part of the upcoming tennis players. That’s very important.
Q 5) Despite the fact that tennis is a physically demanding sport, how important of a role does mental health play?
Ans: It does play a very important role in every sport, especially in tennis. According to me, physical and mental strength is what determines a win or a loss. When two players contest a game they are at par in terms of physical strength but when they know which point to play in which fashion it makes all the difference. We have seen a lot of players losing a game from a winning position owing to the level of their mental toughness. They lose their mental toughness at some of the matches and lose the game. Mental toughness is very important and therefore many courses are brought into place in many academies including ours to make a child mentally tough. A child needs a physical trainer and a coach but along with it guidance on mental health and fitness is also very important.Therefore we have brought in some of the courses in this regard. Indeed mental fitness is equally as important as physical fitness.
Q 6) What needs to be done to get Indians to not just compete at the highest level such as Grand Slams or Olympics but also win?
Ans: It's a dream for all of us. In Europe there are about thirty to forty countries wherein the tennis circuit is still active and in full swing despite the pandemic. Naturally, the players hailing from these countries benefit from playing many more tournaments, spending a very little amount and gaining a large number of points. It Is very difficult for Indians as they have to travel extensively which a lot of people are not able to. We have a lot of talent to exploit but we need support, specially from corporate for grooming players. The dream of entering and winning Grand slams would definitely come true when we invest a lot of energy, money and corporate support as only then an Indian player will be able to do well at such levels.
Q 7) What do you envision as the future of tennis in India?
Ans: I think the future of tennis in India is fantastic. It's a game that has recently picked up as there were not many takers of the game earlier but today all towns and states across India are doing very well. We have a policy of registering players for junior, senior, men, women as well as the wheelchair categories. We have a system of registration and when you see it you will find that more and more players are joining the sport. My vision would be to create a system where a tennis player is not deprived of playing any tournament and his talent is exploited along with taking great care of it. We would like to go to the World Group as we did in the Fed Cup, the Billie Jean King Cup for the first time and we went into the World group this time. This can go on even in the junior levels, the junior Davis Cup and the Davis Cup. However, this will be only possible when all our players do well physically and mentally and are put into the right areas of playing the game. The biggest challenge for the All India Tennis Association today is where and when to start tennis and what kind of tennis as right now we don't have any clue from any corner of the state or anywhere else where tennis or any other game can be started. Hence once the pandemic is over, we are all geared up and will do our best to put our children on the roll and I'm sure this thing will help them in their future endeavors.