The Indian tennis contingent arrived in Palembang for the Asian Games on Thursday but country’s legendary tennis figure Leander Paes was absent from the list. Indian captain and coach Zeeshan Ali has no idea about Paes’ absence.
“I have no idea of his arrival. Only Paes can tell you when he is coming. The last time I spoke to him he said he would play in Cincinnati and then come to Palembang. But he is not playing there also,” Ali told PTI as reported by Times of India.
With Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan playing together in men’s doubles it has become certain that Paes will team up with Sumit Nagal in the men’s doubles. Ramkumar Ramanathan may also be considered but he is a singles specialist and may not feature in doubles event.
Paes, the 18 time grand slam champion has turned 45-year-old and it looks more than certain that it will be his last Asian Games and he will like to finish it on a high. The Kolkata born tennis star debut appearance at Asian games came way back in 1994 Hiroshima and since then he has won five gold medals.
India’s best bet for gold will be at Rohan Bopanna who has recovered from a shoulder injury and is ready to take his big serves to the court.
“I would have played earlier also but the 10-day schedule did not allow me to do that. Now it is a week-long thing which means I only miss one tournament and not two,” said Bopanna.
Debutants Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi arrive at the venue and will put India’s challenge in the women’s singles category. Doubles specialist Prarthana Thombare who won bronze with Sania Mirza in Women’s double category at Incheon will be eager to change the colour of the medal.
Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sumit Nagal will be joining the team on Friday.
India’s chances in women’s singles
Karman and Raina have been impressive in the past few months but the category will feature the likes of defending champion Qiang Wang and Shuai Zhang of China that makes it tough for the Indian girls to produce a favourable result at their debut.
India’s chances in men’s singles
India will miss the service of their top ranked men singles player Yuki Bhmabri who opted to play in the US Open. However, Ramanathan and Gunneswaran will still have a chance considering Japan’s Kei Nishikori and South Korea’s Hyeon Chung opting to skip the games for the US Open. Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin is the only top-100 player in the men’s draw who recently finished runner-up at the Austrian open.
Four years ago in Incheon, Indian tennis contingent bagged five medals including 1 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze