Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes of India run into tricky opponents in the shape of Poland's Marcin Matkowski and Lukasz Kubot in the first round of the men's doubles at the Rio Olympics 2016 on Saturday. In the women's doubles, Sania Mirza will be in action as she partners with the unheralded Prarthana Thombare in a bid to win a medal for the country.
Playing in Rio 2016 together after much drama, Bopanna and Paes will want to avoid an anti-climax by progressing into the next round. It won't be easy, though, with Kubot ranked 25 in the world in doubles, while Matkowski is only two places below his countryman. While Bopanna has the best ranking among the four, at 15, Paes is the lowest at 55.
Paes, though, can make that low ranking up with his experience, considering he will be playing in a record seventh Olympics. Having won a bronze medal way back in 1996, at the Atlanta Olympics, Paes will e desperate to win a place on the podium.
Having fought his way to seal his place in the Rio Olympics, Paes will want to make sure he does everything in his power to take India to, at least, the semifinals. To do that, Paes and Bopanna need to gel together, and while there were signs of that during India's Davis Cup win over South Korea last month, things seemed to take a turn for the worse earlier this week.
Paes only landed in Rio on Thursday, with reports suggesting Bopanna was not open to sharing a room with his doubles partner. While the veteran took to Twitter on Friday to rubbish those conspiracy theories, it is quite clear all is not well in that particular doubles land.
But, professionalism and representing your country is all about putting your personal feelings aside and finding a way of working together on court, and if Bopanna and Paes can do that, they certainly have the capabilities of not just beating Kubot and Matkowski, but going deep in the tournament.
It is easier said than done, though, and it will be up to Paes and Bopanna to show they are at their best when playing together on the hardcourts of Rio.
The women's doubles action will also get underway from Saturday, and the Indian interest comes in the shape of Sania and Prarthana. Sania is coming off a disappointing run of results with her doubles partner on the WTA Tour Martina Hingis, who also features on Saturday, and the Indian will hope a shift in tournament and pairing will help her get the mojo back.
While not much is expected from Prarthana Thombare, if there is anyone who can get the best out of the 22-year-old, it certainly is the multiple Grand Slam winning Sania. The Indians will be up against the experienced Chinese pair of Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai.
The other high-profile match of the day is the doubles match involving the best men's tennis player in the world at the moment – Novak Djokovic. Djokovic of Serbia teams up with Nenad Zimonjic to face off against Marin Cilic and Marin Draganja.
Where to Watch Live
A total of 48 matches will be played on Saturday, with Bopanna-Paes vs Kubot-Matkowski scheduled for an 11 a.m. local time (7.30 p.m. IST, 3 p.m. BST) start on Court 5. Sania and Prarthana's match will be the fifth match on Court 9, so expect that to only begin late in the night in India. Djokovic's doubles match will also start pretty late, considering it is the last one scheduled on Court 1. Below is the live streaming and TV information.
India: TV: Star Sports and DD National. Live Streaming: Hotstar.
Brazil: TV: SporTV, Globo, Fox Sports and ESPN.
UK: TV: BBC. Live Streaming: BBCiPlayer.
China: TV: CCTV.
Australia: TV: Channel 7, 7Two and 7Mate. Live Streaming: Channel 7 online.