The Indian men's tennis team lost a good chance to beat top-seeded Chinese Taipei — that was without its No.1 player, the World No.35 Yen-Hsun Lu — and went down fighting in the semifinals of the Asian Games here on Monday.
Somdev Devvarman did win his singles match 6-2, 7-6(4), albeit a bit of drama in the second set against Ti Chen, dropping serve to trail 1-4, and played hard in the decisive doubles with Sanam Singh. However, the Indian duo found the Chinese Taipei pair of Tsung-Hua Yang and left-hander Chu-Huan Yi hard nuts to crack, especially at the net.
In the men's final, Chinese Taipei will meet the third-seeded Uzbekistan which knocked out second-seeded Japan 2-1. Chinese Taipei also made the women's final to challenge the host China that blew away Thailand 3-0.
The bronze was assured once the team had made the semifinals, but it could have been a better medal for the fourth-seeded Indian team.
Sanam Singh adjusted well to the lack of pace of on show court No.1 — in contrast to the quick outside courts — and did everything right except wrapping up the match that lasted nearly three hours, against the 19-year-old Tsung-Hua Yang, a former World No.1 junior. Yang won 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(5).
Serving well and moving into his strokes briskly for explosive shots, Sanam was a class act as he recovered from 0-3 at the start — he dropped serve in the second game — and got the break back in the seventh game to eventually clinch the set in the tie-break.
Sanam won the crowd over with his attractive game, even though Yang was the darling of the big local gathering.
Even as the Taipei lad tightened up his game, Sanam's game dipped a bit as he dropped serve in the fifth and seventh games of the second set, and in the third game of the decider. He had lost the sting in his serve, and that tilted the balance.
With a back injury troubling him, Sanam did fight to get the break back, but could stay on course only till the tie-break in the third set. While Yang served solidly and had the say in most of the long rallies, Sanam fell to his own impetuosity, as he went for broke.
In the doubles, the Taipei pair combined well to win the crucial points against the scratch Indian combination, for a well-deserved 6-4, 7-6(1) victory.
‘Better team won'
“We had our chances, but it was the better team that won, particularly in the doubles, as they were very good at the net,” said coach Nandan Bal.
He praised Sanam for having fought so well against a player ranked 276 in the world but had no hesitation in highlighting inexperience.
“Sanam had hurt his back, and we were not sure till this morning whether he would play. From that point of view he did wonderfully well to play two good matches. He is only playing Collegiate tennis in the US and will be very good in the next two years,” Bal said.
The coach was particularly pleased about the way Devvarman played the doubles match, and remarked that it would help him more in his singles, especially in sharpening his volleys.
“Somdev enjoyed being on court in the doubles, and that was a great sign,” he said.
The Indian players will now get ready for the individual events that begin on Wednesday.
The results: Chinese Taipei bt India 2-1 [Tsung Hua Yang bt Sanam Singh 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(5); Ti Chen lost to Somdev Devvarman 2-6, 6-7(4); Tsung-Hua Yang & Chu-Huan Yi bt Sanam Singh & Somdev Devvarman 6-4, 7-6(1)].
Keywords: Asian Games 2010