Huge challenge for warring players to deliver at Olympics
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A divided house filled with animosity like never before -- that's what the Indian tennis contingent looks like heading into the London Olympics but it would be a mistake to write off the players even though they seem a vulnerable lot given the pre-Games bickering.
The build up to the Games has been far from ideal as the players were busy squabbling over who will pair with whom which by their own admission created a lot of bad blood among them.
But in individual capacity the three stalwarts – Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza -- have produced some encouraging results in the past 12 months, hence they can go onto produce some magic on the court and get the country's second Olympic medal in tennis.
Paes is the only tennis player from the country to have won a medal -- a bronze -- in Olympics when he achieved the coveted feat in the men's singles at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Ironically, he became the central figure in one of the most bitter rows in Indian tennis -- a drama that was played out for quite a few days before things eventually settled down.
In the process, a new friendship (Bhupathi-Rohan Bopanna) came to the fore, one already-soured (Paes-Bhupathi) became more bitter and a flourishing one (Bhupathi-Sania) got strained.
It was the outcome of the selection controversy that Indian tennis witnessed or rather endured, a few days ahead of the Games.
Although India will be part of four events at the tennis competition, the medal chance is only in two -- men's doubles and mixed doubles and that's why the players' chemistry with each other assumed significance.
The tried and tested combination of Paes-Bhupathi did not fetch a medal in their last four attempts at the Olympics and this time they will not be there as a pair.
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