MELBOURNE, Jan 16 (PTI): All eyes will be on Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi as the ‘Indian Express’ returns to Grand Slam tournaments for the first time in nine years with an aim to win that elusive Australian Open trophy.
Lee-Hesh warmed up for the first Grand Slam of the season with a victory at the Chennai Open but it won’t be easy for them at the Australian Open – starting tomorrow – as the competition will be fierce with some formidable pairs in the fray.
The last Grand Slam they won together was French Open in 2001 and have not competed on the ATP Circuit together since parting ways in 2002.
Incidentally, Bhupathi has not won a men’s doubles Grand Slam title since winning US Open with Max Mirnyi in 2002.
Paes has been successful in adding three men’s titles apart from winning three with Bhupathi. He won US Open in 2006 with Martin Damm and lifted two trophies (French Open in 2006 and US Open in 2009) with Luaks Dlouhy.
But Paes and Bhupathi played together for the nation in Davis Cup and Commonwealth Games so chemistry is not a problem but the effects of growing age have started to show.
Agility and sharpness plays a big role in the doubles matches and the Indian duo will have to be in best form and fitness if they wish to complete their Slam tally. Rohan Bopanna is another Indian player to watch out for who created waves last season by reaching the US Open finals along with Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi.
The pair is growing strong and gaining in confidence and are capable of putting up a few upset results. Picture does not look to rosy in the singles as Somdev has been struggling to cope with the demanding Tour. Loss of form is a big worry for him although his will and stamina can’t be questioned.
But ever since his sensational show at Chennai Open in 2009, Somdev’s progress has just been okay and steady. He has also got a tough opening round as he will face world number 51 Tommy Robredo of Spain.
It’s a huge task to tame the Spaniard and the road will only get tougher even if Somdev manages to upset Robredo.