New Delhi, (IANS) Indian tennis will have its biggest ever Olympic tennis participation at the 2012 London Games, with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Tuesday giving Sania Mirza and Somdev Devvarman wild cards.
With Sania and Somdev’s entry, the number of Indian participants this time is seven.
“Both Sania and Somdev have been given wild cards. The Indian team will now comprise of seven players, the highest ever in any Olympics,” S.P.Mishra, selector of the All India Tennis Association (AITA) and Davis Cup captain, told IANS.
Besides playing the singles, Sania will double up with Rushmi Chakravarty for the women’s doubles and will team up with Leander Paes for the mixed doubles, where India have a strong chance of winning a medal.
Somdev, who pulled out of the Wimbledon due to injury concerns, will be India’s only representation in the men’s singles.
The pairs of Paes-Vishnu Vardhan and Mahesh Bhupathi-Rohan Bopanna will play the men’s doubles.
The AITA had earlier paired Paes and Bhupathi for the men’s doubles. But both Bhupathi and Bopanna rejected the decision and the stand-off threatened to derail Indian tennis campaign at the Olympics.
The AITA, however, gave in to Bhupathi and Bopanna’s demands but made it clear that in the mixed doubles, Sania will partner Paes and not Bhupathi, who is her regular partner on the tour.
The AITA had to seek a wild card for Sania as she failed to protect her top 10 rankings after she slipped to 12th in the WTA rankings after the French Open, where she won the mixed doubles title with Bhupathi.
Somdev has been a singles gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.