Melbourne: Sania Mirza will look to carry forward her sparkling run with Swiss partner Martina Hingis while Rohan Bopanna will also be among the top contenders with Florin Mergea to win his first ever Grand Slam title when the Australian Open begins here today.
Sania and Martina have taken women's tennis by storm with their supreme form, winning 30 matches in a row. They were tested by their rivals in the last few matches but the Indo-Swiss team had enough arsenal to blunt their challenge.
Six in contention
They won the US Open and the Wimbledon championships last season and will start favourites to add a third Grand Slam to their bulging kitty, which has 11 titles so far in less than a year-old partnership.
They are coming into the tournament after winning both the build-up events — Brisbane and Sydney — and they open their campaign against the unseeded Colombian-Brazilian pair of Mariana Duque-Marino and Teliana Pereira.
Overall, India have six players in contention including Yuki Bhambri in men's singles where he faces world number six Tomas Berdych in his opening round. But apart from Sania, only Bopanna can be considered a contender with Romanian partner Mergea.
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have been grouped in the same half of the draw. Paes and his French partner Jeremy Chardy will take on Colombian 12th seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. Bhupathi and Gilles Muller from Luxembourg have the Australian pair of Alex Bolt and Andrew Whittington as their first round opponents.