India at Tokyo Olympics: Indian tennis players face a tough draw as they start their Olympics campaign

India at Tokyo Olympics: Indian tennis players need no less than a miraculous performance to get close to the medal rounds as an under-prepared team of Sania Mirza and debutant Ankita Raina faces a tough Ukrainian challenge in the opener while Sumit Nagal has got a tough draw in the singles competition starting Saturday.

Mirza, who is making a record fourth Olympic appearance, and debutant Raina are going into the Olympics without playing a single competitive match together this year, which is far from ideal preparation for the biggest sporting event on earth.

The last time Mirza and Raina shared the court was in March 2020 during the Billie Jean King Cup. They will open their campaign against Ukraine’s twin sisters Nadiia and Lyudmyla Kichenok.

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Every match is going to be a challenge and we will take one match at a time. Because Of pandemic and quarantine rules we were playing different tournaments. So after Fed Cup, we didn’t get a chance to play together,” Raina told PTI.

However, Mirza has tons of experience and she is playing with a player who is known to punch above her weight while representing the nation.

Raina has a big heart for a fight but it will all depend on the performance of Mirza, who has not been in the best of form with her serve to be an issue. During the recent Wimbledon championships, Mirza gradually upped her game from the baseline but her feeble serve was easily tackled by the rivals.

Interestingly, when Mirza returned to competitive tennis after the COVID-19 induced break in March this year, she and her Slovenian partner Andreja Klepac had faced the same Ukrainian sister pair and had prevailed.

Ranked as low as 137 post maternity break, 34-year-old Mirza has played only eight matches this season with a 4-4 win-loss record. The 28-year-old Raina, ranked 100, has just one single main draw victory to show since the beginning of the 2021 season.

In the doubles, she grabbed her first-ever WTA title with partner Kamila Rakhimova at the Phillip Island Trophy in Melbourne in February and broke into doubles top-100 but suffered five straight first-round defeats after that.

Women’s Doubles: Sania Mirza’s and Ankita Raina’s draw:

World No. 137 Sania Mirza and World No. 100 Ankita Raina will face World No. 48 Lyudmyla Kichenok and World No. 44 Nadiia Kichenok in Round 1

Men’s Singles: Sumit Nagal’s draw:

World No. 160 Sumit Nagal will take on World No. 197 Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan and if he proceeds to Round 2, he will have to face World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev.

India at Tokyo Olympics – Indian Tennis Tokyo Olympics

Sania Mirza & Ankita Raina

Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina are all set to represent India in the women’s doubles event at the Olympics. Sania Mirza will become the first female athlete to represent India at four Olympics, while Ankita Raina will be making her Olympic debut.

Sania Mirza had her rankings protected, so she chose Ankita Raina, and they got the official entry into the tournament.

Sania Mirza had teamed up with Sunith Rao in Beijing in 2008, Rushmi Chakravathi in London in 2012, Prarthana Thombare in Rio 2016, and Ankita Raina will be her fourth different partner on the straight.

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Sumit Nagal

World No. 144 Sumit Nagal has made it to the singles draw of the Tokyo Olympics at a very last minute. None of the Indian singles players had qualified directly for the Olympics – but Nagal got lucky on two accounts.

  • 1st – India has got an entry into Olympics after various withdrawals by the top players.
  • 2nd – If not injured Yuki Bhambri would have got an entry for the Olympics via his protected ranking of 127 on ATP Charts – but as Bhambri is injured Nagal will represent India at the Olympics despite being ranked at 144th on ATP Charts.

India at Tokyo Olympics – Tennis schedule 

  • Saturday, 24th July, (07:30 – 16:30)

–          Women’s Doubles First Round (Sania Mirza & Ankita Raina)

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India at Olympics – India Tennis History at Olympics: Let’s look at the medal won by Leander Paes in the 1996 Olympic Games.

1996 Atlanta Olympics

India had to wait for 44 years to win an individual Olympic medal. Leander Paes ended the individual Olympic medal drought by winning a bronze medal in the Olympics singles event. He lost to Andre Agassi in the semi-finals but defeated Fernando Meligeni to claim the bronze medal.

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