Tennis

Leander Paes pulls out of Asian Games

Ajith Paul Antony   | Photo Credit: special arrangemnet

One of the star performers of the last Asian Games, Leander Paes, who had won the men's doubles gold with Mahesh Bhupathi and the mixed doubles gold with Sania Mirza will not be competing in the current edition of the Games to be held in Guangzhou from November 12 to 27.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion, Paes will be busy with the Barclays World Tour Finals in London from November 21 to 28, trying to win the elusive world doubles title with Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic.

Having virtually assured himself of one of the eight berths in the season-ending championship, Paes had in fact been competing with other partners, and had won the last tournament in Shanghai with Jurgen Melzer of Austria.

Others to follow

While Paes has expressed his inability to compete in China for the team's cause, the two other doubles stars in the Indian team, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, ranked 14 and 16 in the world respectively, are expected to follow suit in the next few days.

Bhupathi figures at the No.8 slot in the team race with Max Mirnyi of Belarus, and Bopanna has stayed in the sixth spot with Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan.

With tournaments in Russia, France, Spain and Switzerland lined up over the next few weeks offering a rich collection of ATP points, there will be plenty of opportunities for the Indian players to confirm their place in the World Tour Finals.

Meanwhile, the exit of Paes has paved the way for Karan Rastogi in the team. Somdev Devvarman is scheduled to be the spearhead in the six-member squad. Vishnu Vardhan and Yuki Bhambri get into the team in addition to the players who had competed in the Commonwealth Games.

When Bhupathi and Bopanna eventually make it to London, it could possibly open room for fringe players like Harsh Mankad and Purav Raja, on the strength of their doubles ranking.

In the Asian Games, there will be team competition apart from the individual events.

Sania competing

In the women's section, Sania Mirza will be the star attraction, and will be supported by Poojashree Venkatesh, Rushmi Chakravarthi and Nirupama Sanjeev who were all part of the squad for the Commonwealth Games. The four will be joined by Tara Iyer and Shivika Burman.

Sanaa Bhambri, pursuing studies in the US, could not join the team and has thus passed on the chance to Shivika.

As in the Commonwealth Games, it may be left to the singles prowess of Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza, who won the gold and silver respectively, to eke out the singles medals in the Asian Games. It may be interesting to see whether the two combine to have a shot at the mixed doubles medals.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 11:19:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/Leander-Paes-pulls-out-of-Asian-Games/article15790868.ece

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