Mumbai, Nov 10 (IANS)
India tennis great Mahesh Bhupathi on Tuesday heaped praise on current women’s doubles World No.1 Sania Mirza and her partner Swiss veteran Martina Hingis and for their tremendous season this year which saw them clinch nine doubles titles, including two Grand Slams.
Bhupathi said the Indo-Swiss pair will continue to win Grand Slams for the next few years with the form they are currently in. The unstoppable duo of Mirza and Swiss veteran Hingis came up with another stupendous performance recently to win the women’s doubles title at the prestigious $7 million WTA Finals in Singapore.
It was the pair’s ninth title together this season, having also won in Beijing, Wuhan, Guangzhou, US Open (New York), Wimbledon (London), Charleston, Miami and Indian Wells. Sania also won the Sydney International in January with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands to take her doubles trophy count to 10 this year.
“Sania has been an inspiration. She has really worked hard over the last three years. It is not about just this year she has performed consistently. She is putting herself in a position to win matches,” Bhupathi said at a press conference here.
“She has also found someone who can complement each other very well that is Martina Hingis. They are going to continue winning Grand Slams for the next few years,” he added.
Bhupathi also opined that alongside mixed doubles, the men’s doubles duo of Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes may win medals for India in the 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil.
“Alongside mixed doubles, men’s doubles have a great chance to clinch medals in the Rio Olympics. Both Rohan-Leander are world class players and they also have a great chance to win,” the 41-year-old said.
The 15-time Grand Slam winner also praised current World No.89 Yuki Bhambri for breaking into the top 100 of the men’s singles in the ATP rankings, adding that will help him play in the main draw of the singles in the Grand Slams next year.
“It has been a very successful year for Indian tennis in the year. Five Grand Slams for the country. Yuki is now 89 in the world and is going to play in the main draw of the singles in the Grand Slam next year. Sumit Nagal and Karman Kaur Thandi are surely the future of Indian tennis in men’s and women’s. Things are moving well,” he said. Bhupathi, who owns Indian Aces a franchise from International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), said he was thrilled to have Rafael Nadal in the team for the next two seasons (2015-2016) after signing Roger Federer in the inaugural season. “It is great to have Nadal on board. We know how big and effective player he has been and is in the court. After the New Delhi crowd witnessed Federer and Novak Djokovic in the inaugural season, this year they will get to see Nadal face-off against Federer,” he said.
When asked about the inclusion of young Indian players in the IPTL, Bhupathi said keeping in mind the world wide broadcast and the top class players in the teams, it will be difficult to fit in budding young players.
“Somdev Devverman has been kept as an alternate player for the Indian Aces. The quality of tennis has to be maintained as it is broadcasted all over the world. Fitting in young and budding Indian players will be difficult here,” he said.
Indian Aces co-owner Gulshan Jhurani — who was also present on the occassion — said that to make the league popular throughout the country, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai are the venues which have taken into consideration for hosting the IPTL in the future.
“We have got great response from Delhi in inaugural season, But to make IPTL popular in the country we would like to shift it till as many cities as possible. After Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai are the chosen venues,” he said.
Nadal, Agnieszka Radwanska, Gael Monfils, Sania, Ivan Dodig, Bopanna, Fabrice Santoro are the seven players in the India Aces squad that will take on the other four franchises — Philippine Mavericks, UAE Royals, Singapore Slammers and the newly-joined Japan Warriors. The league will be held from December 2-20 in Kobe, Manila, New Delhi, Dubai and Singapore.