Tokyo: India’s Sumit Nagal will begin his Tokyo Olympics men’s singles tennis campaign against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin. The Indian women’s doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina will face the Ukrainian Kichenok twin sisters Liudmyla and Nadiia in the first round.
While Istomin is currently ranked 197 as compared to Nagal’s ranking of 160, the 34-year old Uzbek has been ranked as high as world No. 33 at one point. He had also defeated the current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in five sets in the 2017 Australian Open.
If he manages to get past Istomin, the 23-year-old Nagal will run into world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev. The 25-year old Russian has been a finalist at the Australian Open and the US Open.
Leander Paes was the last Indian to reach the second round in men’s singles at the Olympics, back in Atlanta 1996 when he went on to win the bronze medal.
While it will be Ankita Raina’s maiden Olympics, Sania Mirza will be playing her fourth Olympics and is quite familiar with her women’s doubles first-round opponents.
Sania Mirza had paired up with Nadiia Kichenok to win the women’s doubles title at the Hobart Open last year, the tournament where the Indian veteran had made her comeback after childbirth.
At the Qatar Open in March this year, Sania Mirza, partnering with Andreja Klepac, had defeated the 29-year old Kichenok sisters in the round-of-16 in the women’s doubles.
In the second round, Mirza and Raina could face the eighth-seeded American pair of Nicole Melichar and Alison Riske. In the quarter-finals, they could be up against the third seeds from the Netherlands, Kiki Bertens and Demi Schuurs.
Tennis matches at Tokyo 2020 will be held from 24 July to 1 August at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo.
While the men’s singles category at the Tokyo Olympics has 64 players and will be played over six rounds, women’s doubles has 32 players and will involve five rounds.