Beijing, Aug 11: It is going to be tough but not impossible for the Indian Express - Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes - as they start their Olympic campaign in the doubles event here tomorrow.
The Gold medal winning performance of shooter Abhinav Bindra is certainly going to spur the veteran pair to give their best to add more medal to India's kitty.''Their draw is tough,'' asserted coach Nandan Bal and he explained why he thinks it so.''The Indians will be pitted against the French pair of Gael Monfils and Gilles Simons who are not regular doubles player and that is their strength because they have nothing to lose.
They have no worries. Monfils will have a swing at the ball, so will his partner and when you play without any pressure the other pair gets under pressure,'' Nandal said.
''Intrestingly, if everything goes on form and the Indians play a neat and tight game, they can go upto the semis where they will for the first time in this tournament be facing a regular doubles player'' said the coach.
Bal said, ''it is better for the Indian Express to look at each match rather than think of the future matches. Mahesh and Leander are regular doubles player so they have a lot at stake, while their preliminary round rivals are all make shift or scratch combinations.'' ''The Indians, who in their hay days won three Grand Slams together, can still be the medal winners provided they keep their focus,'' Bal opined and added, ''For last couple of days I have seen them practicing and I am optimistic that they will do well here.''
''They seem to have found their rhythm, they are looking confident,'' Bal said. ''The courts are slow and ball comes high, one needs to play with concentration and a bit of caution and I think both these things are with the Indian duo.'' ''Despite all this I still think it is going to be very tricky tournament with non regular doubles players having a ball, no tension, no worry and that will put the regulars on the back foot,'' Bal added.
So if there are expectation, they are not unrealistic, and it looks that for the sake of the country the two will give their best .
Four years ago at Athens, they almost brought India an Olympic medal before Croatian pair of Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic spoiled their party.
Four years later, they have another chance to write the history.
Paes is already keyed up and the Davis Cup captain, who tasted glory in Atlanta more than a decade back, says he is gunning for his second Olympic medal.
''I won the bronze in Atlanta (in singles) and I now I want a double,'' he told reporters at the Olympic Village.
''The defeat in Athens still hurts me. It rankles me that we lost it when we were just two match points away from a win and a medal. I want to right the wrong here,'' he said.