The Indian Tennis Contingent displayed pluck and perseverance to come back with 5 medals at the Asiad Games. A little more luck and we could have easily taken another Gold Medal in Men’s Doubles. Here is a recap of the Asiad tennis Event
When the top Indian men Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Devvarman pulled out of the Asian Games citing their desire to improve their individual ATP rankings, not many would have expected the remaining Indian squad to shine at the Asiad.
Sania Leads From the Front
It was left to Sania Mirza to play the role of flag-bearer in the Indian tennis squad and the 27-year-old did not disappoint. Leading from the front, Sania partnered with Saketh Myneni to win the gold medal in the mixed doubles – her second Asian gold in the mixed and in doing so she continued her streak of winning a mixed doubles medal for the fourth Games in a row. Equally impressive was Sania’s women’s doubles bronze medal with 21-year-old Prarthana Thombare, ranked No. 343 in the world, – India’s first medal in women’s doubles at the Asian Games.
The men did not come away empty-handed either. Yuki Bhambri picked up a bronze medal after showing promise but going down to eventual gold medallist Yoshihito Nishioka of japan in three sets.
Missed Chance For a Gold Medal
The Indian strength in doubles play came to the fore in the Men’s Doubles event, where an Indian 1-2 was very much in the offing.
With the pair of Saketh Myneni and Sanam Singh already through to the final, Yuki Bhambri and Divij Sharan could have ensured an India 1-2 podium finish, holding several match points against the Korean pair Yongkyu Lim and Hyeon Chung in the semis. But Bhambri/ Sharan failed to convert and had to settle for bronze while the Koreans then went on to beat Myneni/ Singh for the gold.
In the team competition, the Indian men and women went down to the much-stronger Kazakh teams in the quarter-final stage.
The Kazakh men’s team went on to win the Men’s title as well. The Indians would have certainly been happy with the Kazakhs decision to pulls out of the individual competitions . Had the Kazakhs played in the individual competitions, Bhambri’s bronze medal in singles & the Indians’ silver and bronze in the men’s doubles may not have come so easily.
This was the third Asiad in a row that India came away with five medals in tennis, but they were not as lucrative as the previous two Games. At the 2010 Delhi Games, India won 2 gold , 1 silver and 2 bronze while at the 2006 Games, India won 3 gold and 2 silver. While the relative performance may have come down a notch , it was indeed promising to see a creditable and fighting performance from the Indian tennis contingent.
In particular it will be interesting to follow the career graph of Saketh Myeni as he will look to build on his Gold medal winning performances at the Asiad
Four years down the line in Jakarta, Leander Paes and Sania Mirza may well have bid adieu to the game. India will then need to unearth some more talent, especially in the women’s events, to repeat their five-medal haul in 2018.