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Why in the world can't India produce a singles star?

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'A lot of things wrong with our system' - Mirza (3:28)

Gaurav Kalra talks to Sania Mirza about India's failure to produce top level Singles tennis players. (3:28)

MELBOURNE, Australia -- For the past 20 years, few countries have enjoyed as much Grand Slam success as India, with a population north of 1.2 billion.

But while Indian players have combined to win 31 Grand Slam titles since 1997, none of them has come through in singles, the blue-ribbon events of the tour. The country has produced many leading juniors, too. Still, none have made it past the singles quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. Ever.

From Leander Paes to Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza to Ramesh Krishnan, Indian players have lit up the tour, often with a very specific style of play -- skillful and blessed with an abundance of flair.

But that doubles success has almost come by mistake, at least according to the players.

"Mahesh and Leander have just been around for so long, but after that, it's just been Rohan for the longest time," world No. 2 Sania Mirza told ESPN.com this week. "It's not really that many players, I think."

Rohan Bopanna, now ranked No. 28, but who was ranked as high as No. 3 in 2013, said the lack of training and teaching in India means players don't understand the necessary physical toll to make it on tour. Especially for the younger generation.

"Players then mature later, and when they're 28, 29 and finally playing good, they say, 'OK, there is an opportunity for doing something they love. They say, 'OK, let's play doubles,'" Bopanna said.

Arguments between players and the All India Tennis Association (AITA) have become commonplace, with the country's leading stars united as to why they've fallen short in singles.

"We don't really have a system in place," Mirza said. "Even with all the talent, it's incredible we've had so many [top doubles players], because we're coming from a background of not knowing anything, and we're just going by trial and error."

Doubles world No. 2 Mirza, a five-time Grand Slam champion, was a leading junior and even managed to crack the top 30 in singles. But, looking back, the 30-year-old says India lacks the knowledge and expertise to turn its talented juniors into top professionals in singles.

"If there is a good 10-year-old, nothing happens," Mirza said. "We don't have somewhere for when kids say, 'Where do I go now? What do I do?' When you see an LTA (the governing body in Britain) or USTA (United States Tennis Association), there is always a system in place. We don't have that; nobody knows where to go. I don't even know who to contact."

Playing tennis in India is an expensive business. Mirza's family had to raise the Rupee equivalent of $150,000 at one stage to keep her in the game, something few families can afford. "People don't earn that in a lifetime," Mirza said. "To try to raise that for a year without getting anything in return in juniors or ITF [events] is not easy."

Rohan Bopanna, a former world No. 3 who is now ranked at 28, agreed with his compatriot, claiming that internal politics is partly to blame.

"Some players do get some support later, but it's not really based on tennis," he said. "It's only based on if you know somebody personally and then they help you out.

"What is very tough in India is they don't look at supporting people. If somebody's doing well, they're not genuinely praising that guy for doing well. Nobody wants to grow the sport, because they don't have the passion to grow the sport. They're looking to grow just themselves."

Somdev Devvarman, who retired from tennis this month having reached a career-high ranking of 62 in 2011, wrote an open letter to the AITA this week in which he slammed them for publicly criticizing a young player. Devvarman described the governing body as "incompetent" and accused them of having no interest in growing the sport.

Bopanna says even leading players are given little support from those who hold positions of power.

"If I see players from other countries, I see their captain of Davis Cup is here, watching their players, watching matches," Bopanna said. "We have people who just sit there with no clue who's doing what, how they're playing. They just look at results and say, 'OK, this guy's good; that guy's not good.' The federation needs to be the bigger person at the end of the day, and unfortunately, our Indian federation is lacking in a huge way."

Bhupathi, Mirza and Bopanna all have academies in India, but Mirza said they were almost philanthropic initiatives.

"I'm trying to do what I can," Mirza said. "Mahesh is trying to do what he can, but there is only so much an individual can do. You do need the backing of a federation or a system. I've got a couple of kids at my academy who are amazing. I'm going to try to help them, but I can't do it alone. It's beyond expensive."