Although India have a women’s doubles player as World No.1, former Indian tennis star Vijay Amritraj is not impressed with quality of singles players in India. The 62-year-old player-turned commentator also downplayed Leander Paes playing his seventh Olympics at Rio, saying “it is unimportant”.
Since 1996 Atlanta, where Paes won India’s first and only medal in tennis, India’s performance in singles events at the highest level has not been noteworthy. Sania Mirza flattered to deceive, and no one ever since, has shown the consistency or the promise to make it big at the highest level. Former India star Vijay Amritraj is unimpressed with this and has expressed his displeasure in the quality of players India is producing. The former Wimbledon quarter-finalist told News18.com that he is disappointed that no players from the country are making a mark in singles.
India’s medal prospects in the doubles notwithstanding, Amritraj stressed on the fact that there will be no Indian representation in the singles event at Rio.
“Unfortunately, we don't have anyone playing in the singles, which to me is a great disappointment. It has always been like that," he said to News18.com
Though Leander Paes will be playing a record seventh Olympics, Amritraj downplayed the feat, saying, “It is unimportant whether Leander Paes is playing his seventh Olympics, because the importance of participating in the event is entirely to do with singles."
“That is the reason why people play the sport. They play the sport to play singles. When we talk about who is the best player in the world. we talk about Federer, Nadal, Djokovic. We don't talk about the other aspects of the game,” he continued.
Vijay Amritraj was part of an era which is widely considered the golden era of the sport in India. In 1974, along with brother Anand Amritraj, Sashi Menon, and Jasjit Singh, he took India to the Davis Cup finals for the second time. Eight years after, Ramnathan Krishnan, Premjit Lal, SP Misra, and Jaidip had led India to the first finals in 1966. No Indian has done well in the singles department since that, even though Sania Mirza, Leander Paes, and Rohan Boppanna have been very successful in doubles.
“We don't start the game for playing doubles. We start to play singles and we should stay focus on that. I feel sad to see none of the boys are playing in Grand Slams and none of the girls are in Grand Slams—so we should focus on that.
"Rohan Boppanna has qualified for being in the top ten in doubles rankings and of course Leander Paes will be partnering him. Sania Mirza obviously is also playing the women's doubles. Bopanna and Mirza should have a good chance in mixed doubles - it's only a 16 draw, so you are already in the pre-quarters at the start of the event," he told News18.com
"Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza have done an incredible job in doubles. The great thing about Hingis is the ability to isolate herself and find the right partners. In singles career she was brilliant and she realised as soon as she came back that she is not good enough to play the singles. So if you want to continue playing the sport and play it as long as possible, then you have to choose the right partner.
"I think Sania has complemented Hingis' game beautifully. Sania plays a tremendous back-court game and has a powerful forehand. The way she maneuvers around the court with that shot is brilliant and Hingis is brilliant at the net, so certainly both of them combine really well," he added.
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