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Reunion and splits mark Indian tennis in 2011

Press Trust of India
Dec 31, 2011 at 01:04pm IST

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Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi reunited after nine years only to split within months as Indian tennis' highs and lows remained centred on its doubles players in 2011.

Bhupathi is set to partner Rohan Bopanna in the coming season, running up to the Olympics, and it remains to be seen how they would shape up in London.

Paes, meanwhile, is likely to start the year with Serb Janko Tipsarevic in the Chennai Open after which he will play tour events with Radek Stepanek.

Reunion and splits mark Indian tennis in 2011

Paes and Bhupathi split for the third time after teaming up together at the start of the year.

Bopanna's decision to part ways with Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi after four fruitful years came as a shock to everyone, including the Pakistani, who couldn't believe that the Olympics would hurt their partnership for the entire season.

"I would have liked to continue because I had such a great year with Rohan. But I didn't have any say in the decision. I was just told to find a partner. It definitely came as a shock to me," Qureshi said after the split.

Paes, on the other hand, said he wanted younger legs with him on the tour next season in order to give the tried-and-tested partnership (Bhupathi and him) relief going into the Olympics.

Winners of three Grand Slams together, Paes and Bhupathi's much-hyped comeback this year turned out to be a reasonable one as they made it to the finals of the Australian Open and the last four of the yearend ATP World Tour Finals.

In fact, the duo proved that they still have a lot to offer as they reached the semifinals of the tournament.

The Indo-Pak pair of Bopanna and Qureshi compiled a consistent season, reaching the semi-finals or better at seven tournaments in all, including the US Open, where they ended runners-up in 2010.

They managed to reach the quarterfinals of the French Open where they lost to the Bryan brothers before going the whole hog and winning the Gerry Weber Open.

Their biggest achievement of the year though came when they lifted their first Masters title in Paris to become the seventh doubles team to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals, where they lost all their matches.

Having re-united for the second time Paes and Bhupathi started with a bang by lifting the Chennai Open in January, before going down to the Bryan brothers (Bob and Mike) in the finals of the Australian Open.

The pair went on to win their second title of the season by clinching the Sony Ericsson Open in April to become number one in the ATP World Tour doubles team rankings, before they claimed their third title of the season in the Western & Southern Open final, their first title in 10 years at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati.

But by the end of the season both their zeal and partnership came to an end.

Meanwhile, injury-prone Sania, started 2011 with an yet another injury - first in her right knee, followed by the left one.

However, despite the niggles, she went on to win three WTA doubles titles - two with her Russian partner Elena Vesnina and one with Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.

She also reached her first-ever women's doubles Grand Slam final at the French Open but along with her partner Vesnina was outplayed by Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the summit clash.

Sania admitted that reaching the final at Roland Garros gave her immense satisfaction.

"Reaching that final would be the highlight of the season. I wish we had won that but making the final itself is very satisfying," she said.

At Wimbledon, thye Sania-Vesnina combination did well to reach the semi-finals but lost to Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik.

In singles, her performance was hardly mediocre at best, though she improved her ranking from 166 to 87.

She reached the quarter-finals of just one WTA tournament - at Charleston (US) - in the entire season and struggled to make it beyond the first and second rounds.

In men's singles, Somdev Devvarman, who received the Arjuna Award this year, reached his highest singles ranking of 62 before finishing the season at No 84.

It was a comedown of sorts for Devvarman, who was the toast of the nation in 2010 where he won the singles gold in the Commonwealth Games, and went a step further by winning the doubles title at the Asian Games which followed, to add to his singles triumph in the event.

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