Saketh Myneni's US draw a slap in the face for AITA
Tennis pro Saketh Myneni has been India's hot topic of discussion after he made it to the main draw of US Open 2016. He was the only Indian player to receive an entry into the singles draw this year at New York.
Although he failed to progress further than the first round in the grand slam, his qualification came as a slap in the face for the India Tennis Association (AITA) after they piped the talented Saketh for the more experienced Leander Paes to partner Rohan Bopanna at the Rio Olympics.
Let's face it, the rift between Bopanna and Paes was no hidden fact. India's highest-ranked doubles player, who had the right to choose his partner for the games, had expressedly asked for Saketh as his partner for the doubles event at Rio.
Regardless of the achievements and experience that Paes carries along, one cannot deny the fact that a doubles partnership hinges a lot on the chemistry between the two players. And the silver medal at the Asian Games 2014 is proof of the bonding the duo shares on court.
The Olympic rejection, however, did not dampen Saketh’s spirits and he continued to chase his dream of appearing in a grand slam. Though playing for your country brings pride, a tennis player is majorly judged based on his/her results in a grand slam.
The 28-year-old player, who took up tennis professionally at a tender age of 11, proved that perseverance can never let one person down. After a total of five failed attempts to qualify for the main draw, he finally lived his dream on Monday, when he faced Czech's Jiri Vesely in the opening round at New York. Had he won the tie, he would have faced World No. 1 Novak Djokovic but unfortunately, his hard-fought battle came to an end at 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-2 2-6 5-7.
While the Andhra Pradesh player has managed to break into main stream tennis and is being praised by all in the country, Paes has been at the receiving end of the nation’s ire for his "unprofessional" behaviour at Rio 2016.
Incredibly huge effort by @SakethMyneni— Somdev Devvarman (@SomdevD) August 30, 2016
Tough tough match today but great to see such a fight. Proud of you!
It was Paes' seventh Olympics' appearance under the Indian flag and the tennis star arrived in Rio only a day before his first doubles match with Bopanna.
Mahesh Bhupathi, who shares an unpleasant relationship with former teammate Paes, condemned him for his poor show at Rio 2016 saying, "You cannot go to the Olympic Games without preparation."
"I don't care who you are. I don't care how much money you have. It is inexcusable that Leander reached Thursday night, expecting a miracleon Saturday. It's unfathomable. The Olympics schedule is out two years in advance. You keep singing the song that this (the Olympics) is your thing (and then show up at the last minute)," Bhupathi told Economic Times.
The Indian duo lost to Poland's Kubot Lukasz and Matkowski Marcin in the opening round of the doubles event at Rio.
Given Saketh’s stellar first-performance at his first grand slam India may have stood a better chance had Saketh paired with Bopanna for the Olympics.