Somdev, Sania spearhead Indian challenge in US Open

Updated: 29 August 2010 12:33 IST

Somdev Devvarman would look to cash in on his first ever direct entry into a Grand Slam and better his record at tennis majors while Sania Mirza would look to r

Somdev, Sania spearhead Indian challenge in US Open

New York :

Somdev Devvarman would look to cash in on his first ever direct entry into a Grand Slam and better his record at tennis majors while Sania Mirza would look to revive her international career when the two top Indian players begin their campaigns in the US Open on Monday.

However, the careers of Somdev and Sania, India's singles flag bearers, wear a complete contrast look.

Somdev did not have to go through the qualifiers for the first time and Sania had to earn an entry into a Grand Slam for the first time through qualifying event since 2005.

Somdev's graph is of a steady rise while reversal is reality for Sania, who is now languishing at 159 in the world.

Fitness is the key for Somdev, who is now in elite top-100 group, and also a major reason in his continuing success story but injuries and controversies have marred Sania's career.

The game has become very physical and Somdev takes a lot of pain to keep himself fit for the tough challenges on a very demanding tour. Sania though is grappling with loss of form and a recurrent wrist injury.

She did well in the qualifying event, losing just one set in three encounters and is now up against Portugal's Michelle Larcher De Brito, who is ranked 16 places below her.

It will be the first meeting between the two players and if Sania manages to clear the first round, she may be up against Russian 20th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Somdev has a tricky first round opponent in South African Davis Cupper Kevinm Anderson, who is in red-hot form these days.

But Somdev, whose best performance at a Grand Slam came last year at US Open when he reached second round as a qualifier, would be eager to improve his record at the big stage.

Somdev has shown that he does not care for reputations and can beat a top-25 player on his day. If he beats Anderson, the Indian will play against either American Tim Smyczek or Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci.

India's title hopes will yet again rest on seasoned Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi.

Paes and his Czech partner Lukas Dlouhy will enter the last Grand Slam as defending champions. Paes and Cara Black had ended runners-up in the mixed doubles event.

They had beaten Bhupathi and Mark Knowles in the final.

Bhupathi will look to end his men's doubles title drought as the last time he won was in 2002 at US Open with Max Mirnyi, his current partner.



Topics : Tennis Somdev Devvarman
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