Tennis 2016: The Year That Swung Between Sania Mirza's Highs And Rohan Bopanna's Lows

Updated: 31 December 2016 08:57 IST

While Sania Mirza ended the year as world No. 1 in women's doubles, Rohan Bopanna criticised the AITA for not getting selected for India's Davis Cup team

Tennis 2016: The Year That Swung Between Sania Mirza's Highs And Rohan Bopanna's Lows
Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna © IPTL

Sania Mirza was the standout performer for India in the world of tennis in 2016. The Hyderabad girl dominated the women's doubles format and ended the year as the No. 1 ranked player in the world.

Sania and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis went on an incredible 41-match winning streak that was halted at the Qatar Open in February. The duo started this record-breaking run in September 2015 at the U.S. Open, the first of nine straight titles.

But the 2-6, 6-4, 10-5 defeat by the Russian duo of Elena Vesnina and Daria Kasatkina meant that the Indo-Swiss pair failed to go past Natasha Zvereva of Belarus and Czech Jana Novotna's 1990 mark of 44 consecutive wins.

In August, Sania and Martina announced their split before playing one last time in the season-ending WTA Finals in October. The two decided to part ways after a successful partnership that fetched three Grand Slam victories and eleven WTA doubles titles.

"Perhaps, because of our great past results, we have had very high expectations from our partnership and unfortunately did not get the results we desired recently. We would like to clarify that it was a totally professional decision based purely on our recent results," the duo said in a joint statement.

Rio controversy

India's campaign at the Rio Olympics 2016 kicked off with a major controversy due to Leander Paes' delayed arrival at the Games Village. It just got worse from there.

Most fans knew that Rohan Bopanna and he lacked the chemistry to win a medal but none had anticipated a first round exit for the duo.

The Indian pair endured a straight sets loss to the Polish pair of Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski. On the very same day, Sania and Prarthana Thombare too bowed out in the women's doubles after a 7-6 5-7 7-5 loss against China's Shuai Peng-Shuai Zhang.

Mirza and Bopanna though came really close to delivering a medal for India in the mixed doubles. After playing some solid tennis, they suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradceka in the bronze medal play-off. The Indians lost 1-6 6-7 in an encounter that lasted one hour and 13 minutes.

Paes' career slam

All was not lost for Paes in 2016. Before a poor effort at the Olympics, the veteran Indian tennis star completed a 'Career Slam' in mixed doubles with Swiss partner Martina Hingis after beating Sania and Ivan Dodig 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 to lift the French Open. The 42-year-old Paes had clinched the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles in 2015 while partnering Hingis.

Davis Cup demise

India were blanked 5-0 by a strong Spain team in the Davis Cup World Group Play-off at Delhi's RK Khanna Tennis Stadium in September. Feliciano Lopez beat Ramkumar Ramanathan while David Ferrer outclassed Saketh Myneni.

Spain then took a 3-0 lead after Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez edged out Leander Paes and Myneni in a thrilling match that lasted for over three hours. Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal then lost to Ferrer and Marc Lopez in their respective singles ties.

Bhupathi takes over

With an eye on the future, AITA in December named tennis great Mahesh Bhupathi as the successor to Anand Amritraj as India's next non-playing Davis Cup captain.

Bhupathi is due to take over from Amritraj in February 2017 after India's Davis Cup Group 1 Asia/Oceania first round tie against New Zealand. Myneni, Ramanathan, Yuki Bhambri, Paes and Prajnesh Gunneswaran were named in the squad, while Bopanna was dropped.

Bopanna did not take kindly to that, protesting at the summary manner in which he was dropped. But it has been that kind of year for him.

Topics : Leander Paes Mahesh Bhupathi Sania Mirza Tennis Rohan Bopanna
Highlights
  • Sania Mirza ended the year as world No. 1 in tennis
  • She also entered the Olympics mixed doubles semi-final with Bopanna
  • Bopanna was not selected for India's Davis Cup squad
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