The 33-year-old, however, will play the women’s doubles event, pairing with Ukraine’s Nadiia Kichenok. The duo opens against the Chinese combine of Xinyun Han and Lin Zhu on Thursday.
The Indian star, who returned to competition at the Hobart International last week, after missing 27 months of action with what started as an injury break but finished as maternity leave, clinched the title in her first tournament back.
The Hyderabadi, multiple-time Grand Slam doubles and mixed doubles champion, a former No. 1, hurt her leg during the final last week when she tried to chase down a drop shot. Sania has been getting treatment at Melbourne Park.
Sania, who is travelling with her 15-month old son Izhaan, said: “It’s unfortunate that this niggling injury got aggravated in the Hobart final just as I was getting to the top of my game. It is a lot better now and I intend to give it my best shot in doubles. It’s disappointing to miss out on the chance to partner Rohan in mixed.”
She hit the practice court for the first time in four days on Wednesday afternoon when she sparred with Kichenok for 20 minutes, getting a feel of the ball, before rolling her arm for a few serves at the indoor facility.
The Indian, who is using her injury protected ranking of No. 9 to play the opening Grand Slam of the year, which will qualify as one of the two Slams she’s allowed to use it for, was looking to make the outing count. Sania, who started from scratch in the individual doubles ranking, is now up to No. 265 after just one tournament.
She initially was set to partner Indian-American Rajeev Ram in the mixed doubles, but the 35-year-old Ram who had been down with a viral flu, pulled out of the mixed event. Bopanna will now partner Kichenok.
Meanwhile, in the men’s doubles first round, India No. 1 Bopanna and Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama bowed out to 13th seeds Bob and Mike Bryan, who are playing their last Australian Open. The Bryans, six-time champions here, won 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. The Japanese was broken in the eighth game after the Indian pulled the side out of the woods in the second set.
“The conditions were brutal out there,” Bopanna said about of the wind that kept everyone guessing. “They handled it better than us, that made the difference.”
India’s Divij Sharan and Kiwi Artem Sitak, however, rallied splendidly from 2-5 in the second set to score a 6-4, 7-5 win over the tricky Spanish-Portuguese partnership of Pablo Carreno Busta and Joao Souza.