By Ashish Maggo
What a perfect start it has been to Wimbledon 2015! No rain and clear sunshine have been the themes of the first week at the All-England Club so far, with temperatures rising to the highest-recorded 36-degree celsius on Wednesday.
The Indian challenge in doubles has been fairly active although Mahesh Bhupathi and his Serbian partner Janko Tipsarevic crashed out in the first round yesterday, losing in straight sets to the Swedish-Austrian pairing of Robert Lindstedt and Daniel Nestor.
The two other Indians in the men’s doubles, Paes and Bopanna, however, have safely moved through to Round 2. Paes is partnering Canada’s 41-year-old Daniel Nestor at Wimbledon, who happens to be the 42-year-old Indian’s record 100th partner in doubles at the tour level. The pair is seeded eleventh this year.
Bopanna, in recent times, has achieved decent success with his Romanian partner Florin Mergea. Bopanna and Mergea, who are seeded eighth at Wimbledon this year, made the finals of the warm-up tournament at Halle recently after an early setback at Roland Garros.
A potential tough match for both the Indian men’s doubles pairs beckons in the quarterfinals, where Paes and Nestor could meet the top-seeded Bryan brothers. Bopanna and Mergea could bump into defending champions Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil in the quarters. However, this match could be easy for Bopanna considering Sock is playing in the tournament with a fractured finger.
In the women’s doubles, the top-seeded pair of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis, who have gained a lot of success recently as a fresh pair, safely moved into Round 2 when they beat Zarina Diyas and Saisai Zheng 6-2, 6-2. The tough spot for these women could come in the semis where they will potentially face Sania’s former partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands and French Open 2015 finalist Lucie Safarova, seeded third in the draw.
In the final, Sania and Hingis could bump into Russians Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova, who will be the biggest challenge in front of them before the title. Although the Indo-Swiss pairing has been almost unbeatable in the recent past, winning Wimbledon could be a tough bet considering there is no match tie-break and a full third set is played at the All-England Club, even for women’s doubles.
The mixed doubles contests will begin on Friday, Day 5. In the draw, Bhupathi is partnering Russia’s 27-year-old Alla Kudryavtseva while Paes is partnering Hingis, seeded seventh as a pair. Sania is partnering Brazil’s Bruno Soares, with whom she won the US Open title last year. They are seeded second.
In the men’s singles draw, ruckus has been created with the withdrawals of Spain’s David Ferrer and last year’s US Open finalist Kei Nishikori. The ouster of Rafael Nadal in the second round yesterday at the hands of Germany’s Dustin Brown has left this section of the draw wide open.
The men’s title now could be a three-way battle between top-seeded defending champion Novak Djokovic, second seed and seven-time champion Roger Federer, and Britain’s 2013 champion Andy Murray.
In the women’s section, last year’s finalist Eugenie Bouchard has already bowed out of the tournament, as she lost to qualifier Ying-Ying Duan in straight sets in the first round. However, Bouchard’s loss hasn’t been a big surprise considering her poor form this year. Third seed Simona Halep also lost out in the first round to Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova, who beat Serena Williams last year on clay. Cepelova subsequently lost her match to Monica Niculescu in the second round.
Serena Williams has won both the Australian Open and French Open this year as she inches closer to the feat of winning all four slams in a calendar year. However, Serena didn’t look very comfortable in her first round outing against Russia’s Elena Gasparyan. The result was Serena and Venus’ withdrawal as a pair from the women’s doubles, in order to concentrate on singles. Venus herself is not in bad form and is seeded 15th in the draw. She could meet her sister Serena in what could be a mouth-watering fourth round clash at Wimbledon this year.
The other challengers for the women’s crown are obviously defending champion Petra Kvitova and former champion Maria Sharapova, who has not won at Wimbledon for more than 10 years now.
So, stay glued to the tennis action till next week’s Sunday for what promises to be a super-exciting Wimbledon 2015.