Tennis fraternity hails Aus Open champs

Indian tennis fraternity has no doubt that the success of Indian players at the Australian Open would usher in a new era for the game in the country.

updated: February 01, 2009 16:46 IST
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Indian tennis fraternity has no doubt that the success of Indian players at the Australian Open would usher in a new era for the game in the country.

Indian players - Yuki Bhambri, Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi - put up a dazzling show, bringing home two of the nine titles at stake at the first Grand Slam event of the year.

Yuki won the junior boys singles title on Saturday while Sania-Bhupathi combine lifted the mixed doubles title, first for an Indian team.

India's Davis Cup coach Enrico Piperno says after seeing Sania and Bhupathi's performance in Melbourne, he was sure the Indian mixed doubles team is now capable of winning many more Grand Slams.

Piperno said Sania's improved game and fitness and Bhupathi's red-hot form makes them a lethal pair now.

"This is really exciting. Mahesh is playing impeccable tennis at the moment and Sania has complemented him all through. I watched them playing the semis and I knew that they will win the title this time," Piperno said from Perth, Australia.

"This (win) will give a lot of confidence to Sania and will help her when she takes the court for singles. Confidence is always the key and I see them winning more and more titles this year," he added.

Piperno said Sania's success had ignited the interest in tennis in the country and this time together with Yuki's success India will see a lot more players coming up.

"I think it will further ignite the passion. People will definitely think that our players are not only capable of competing but also win Grand Slams also. Many are going to pick the racket now," he said.

Former Davis Cup captain Jaideep Mukherjea said India's preparations for next year's Commonwealth Games has started in the right earnest.

"This is great news for Indian tennis. Somdev Devvarman is doing extremely well in singles. A lot of juniors are doing well and this mixed doubles title has come. (Laender) Paes and Mahesh (Bhupati) are playing great men's doubles tennis.

"By the time Commonwealth Games arrive in the capital, we would have produced a lot of good players. But it will be very tough. The likes of Andy Murray would be there in the field," Mukherjea said.

"There was a slump in Indian tennis and this (Australian Open success) will bridge that."

Meanwhile, the All India Tennis Association hailed the magical trio of Sania, Bhupathi and Yuki Bhambri for their "excellent" performance at the Australian Open and said it will honour the champions soon.

"We congratulate Sania and Mahesh and of course Yuki for their excellent performance. There were nine titles at stake and we won two. This is really nice. This is wonderful performance," Anil Khanna, AITA Secretary General, said.

"It really augurs well for Indian tennis. Yuki is very promising. Considering their performance at the Australian Open we will discuss at our next AGM how to honour these champions," Khanna said.

However, Khanna said tennis fans in the country should not put pressure on Sania.

"You have to be fair. All the top-100 players are so good that anyone can beat any other. It just depends on the form on that particular day.

"Tennis has become a thankless game. And just one injury can mar your chances and game. Sania has really come up well after the wrist injury and let's hope she continues to shine," he said.