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Rediff.com  » Sports » Australia Open: Paes-Stepanek to face Dlouhy-Rosol in opener

Australia Open: Paes-Stepanek to face Dlouhy-Rosol in opener

January 12, 2014 20:11 IST

Gunning for yet another Grand Slam title, India's old war horse Leander Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek have been seeded fifth at the Australian Open and they will open their campaign against Czech pair of Lukas Dlouhy and Lukas Rosol. 

Leander Paes and Radek StepanekAnother big Indian hope, Rohan Bopanna and his Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi find Australia's Rameez Junaid and Adrian Mannarino from France as their first round opponents. 

Yuki Bhambri, who is set to make his Grand Slam debut, and his New Zealand partner Michael Venus have been drawn against Spaniards Roberto Bautista Agut and Daniel Gimeno-Traver. 

Left-handed Divij Sharan, who has partnered with Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu, will face Sweden's Johan Brunstrom and Denmark's Frederik Nielsen in their first round. 

Veteran Mahesh Bhupathi and his American partner Rajeev Ram are pitted against Columbia's Santiago Giraldo and Potugal's Joao Sousa.

It's first time I am so well prepared: Bopanna

Meanwhile, Rohan Bopanna has every reason to feel "well prepared" going into the Australian Open as the Indian tennis star enjoyed a superb week at the Sydney International, where he reached the finals, and then won back his place in the Davis Cup side after spending almost two
years on the sidelines. 

When he was slugging it out with Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi against eventual champions Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, AITA's national selection panel in Mumbai was discussing the squad to take on Chinese Taipei in Indore from January 31. 

Bopanna lost the final but hours later he was back in the Indian side and will now be the senior-most member of the team with the experience of playing 17 ties behind him. His 17th final appearance in the very demanding ATP tour made him confident enough to think about winning his first Grand Slam title.

"It's great to go into a Grand Slam feeling confident. It's definitely been the first time I have been so well prepared, so hoping this Grand Slam will do good for us and we are confident as a team," Bopanna told PTI from Sydney. The AITA had shut the door by banning him and Mahesh Bhupathi on disciplinary grounds in 2012 but Bopanna continued his ascendancy and went on to touch a career-high rank of number three in the world, only behind the great Bryan brothers, last year. 

While serving the ban, Bopanna missed three Davis Cup ties -- against New Zealand, Korea and Indonesia, which was held in his home city of Bangalore. So what this comeback mean to Bopanna, having missed a rare home Davis Cup tie in between? The Coorgi wants to let bygones be bygones. 

"I did miss playing in my home city, but I am sure that the opportunity will arise again one day, and I look forward to it. I am enjoying being in the present and what is gone is gone," Bopanna said.