India at the Tokyo Olympics: Indian tennis players need nothing less than a miraculous performance to move closer to the medal rounds as an under-prepared side of Sania Mirza and debutant Ankita Raina face a tough Ukrainian challenge in the first game while Sumit Nagal has a tough draw in the singles competition starting on Saturday.
Mirza, who is making a record-breaking fourth Olympic appearance, and debutante Raina enter the Olympics without playing a single competitive game together this year, which is far from ideal preparation for the biggest sporting event in the world.
The last time Mirza and Raina shared the pitch was in March 2020 during the Billie Jean King Cup. They will open their campaign against the Ukrainian twin sisters Nadiia and Lyudmyla Kichenok.
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“Each match will be a challenge and we will take one match at a time. Due to pandemic and quarantine rules, we were playing different tournaments. So after the Fed Cup, we didn’t have the chance to play together,Raina told PTI.
However, Mirza has a lot of experience and she plays with a player who is known to strike over 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 at his best with his serve to be a problem. At the recent Wimbledon Championships, Mirza gradually improved his game from baseline, but his weak serve was easily attacked by rivals.
Interestingly, when Mirza returned to competitive tennis after the COVID-19-induced hiatus in March this year, she and her Slovenian partner Andreja Klepac faced the same pair of Ukrainian sisters and prevailed.
Ranked as low as 137 after the maternity break, Mirza, 34, has only made eight appearances this season with a 4-4 win-loss record. Raina, 28, ranked 100, has only one main draw win since the start of the 2021 season.
In doubles, she clinched her first-ever WTA title with partner Kamila Rakhimova at the Phillip Island Trophy in Melbourne in February and broke into the doubles top 100, but suffered five straight first-round losses thereafter.
Double Women: Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina draw:
World 137th Sania Mirza and World 100 Ankita Raina will face World 48th Lyudmyla Kichenok and 44th Nadiia Kichenok in the first round.
Men’s singles: Sumit Nagal draw:
World No.160 Sumit Nagal will face World No.197 Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan and if he passes round 2 he will have to face World No.2 Daniil Medvedev.
India at the Tokyo Olympics – Indian Tennis Tokyo Olympics
Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina
Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina are all set to represent India in the women’s doubles event at the Olympic Games. Sania Mirza will become the first female athlete to represent India at four Olympics, while Ankita Raina will make her Olympic debut.
Sania Mirza had her ranking protected, so she chose Ankita Raina, and they got official entry into the tournament.
Sania Mirza had teamed up with Sunith Rao in Beijing in 2008, Rushmi Chakravathi in London in 2012, Prathana Thombare in Rio 2016, and Ankita Raina will be her fourth different partner in the straight.
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World No.144 Sumit Nagal reached the Tokyo Olympics singles draw at the very last minute. None of the Indian singles players had qualified directly for the Olympics – but Nagal was lucky in two titles.
- 1st – India entered the Olympics after various withdrawals of top players.
- 2nd – Had he not been injured, Yuki Bhambri would have secured an entry for the Olympics via his protected ranking of 127 on the ATP charts – but as Bhambri is injured, Nagal will represent India at the Olympics despite his ranking at the 144th on the ATP charts.
India at the Tokyo Olympics – Tennis Schedule
- Saturday July 24 (7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
– First round of the women’s doubles (Sania Mirza & Ankita Raina)
Tokyo Olympics live broadcast details and all other details – All Tokyo Olympic tennis matches will be broadcast live on SonyLIV in India and follow them LIVE on InsideSport.co.
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India at the Olympics – Indian Tennis History at the Olympics: Let’s look at the medal won by Leander Paes at the 1996 Olympics.
Atlanta Olympic Games 1996
India had to wait 44 years to win an individual Olympic medal. Leander Paes ended the individual Olympic medal drought by winning a bronze medal in the Olympic singles event. He lost to Andre Agassi in the semifinals but beat Fernando Meligeni to win the bronze medal.