Jakarta: Seasoned tennis pro Rohan Bopanna, who skipped the year’s final Grand Slam-the US Open-paired up well with Divij Sharan and overpowered a spirited Japanese duo of Kaito Uesugi and Sho Shimabukoro 4-6, 6-3 (10-8) to storm into the final of the Men’s Doubles competition at Palembang on Thursday and ensured India at least a silver medal.
Meanwhile, Ankita Raina, who despite losing 4-6, 6-7 (6-8) to the World No 34, Zhang Shuai of China, in the semi-final, became the only second Indian woman to claim a medal in the individual event as the losing semi-finalists are conferred with bronze medals.
Sania Mirza is the only other woman to have Asiad medals in her collection. He had won a silver in 2006 and a bronze in 2010. Shuai and Ankita had problem with their serve as there were five breaks in the opening set, with Zhang winning three of those in the first set.
Ankita, ranked 155 spots below Zhang, put up a good fight as she broke her higher-ranked rival in the set. However, Zhang retaliated and broke back immediately and then held her serve to draw level. After that the Chinese held her a service to make it 3-3.
Zhang then broke Ankita in the ninth game to go up 5-4 before holding her serve to take the first set in 54 minutes.
The second set was a rollercoaster. The higher-ranked Chinese broke Ankita in the first game but the Indian broke right back.
The Chinese again broke Ankita and then held for 3-1. However, the Indian came back strongly to win the next three games to lead 4-3, but after that she lost her concentration and Zhang managed to hold her service.
In the tiebreak, Zhang had two match points at 6-4, but Raina saved both, including one with a running forehand scoop. However, a couple of netted backhands in succession gave Zhang another match point and then the win.
Ankita will also be seen in action in the mixed doubles quarterfinals with Rohan Bopanna.
Mixed doubles exit
Rohan Bopanna and Ankita Raina miss out on a chance to win two medals each at the ongoing Asian Games, as they go down in the semis 6-4, 1-6, 10-6 against Indonesian pair Rungtak, Sutjiadi in the mixed doubles quarter-finals event on Thursday.
Indian players given pocket-less shorts
- The Indian men’s tennis team turned up in taped kits to hide personal sponsors’ names in Thursday’s Asian Games semifinal as the ones provided by the official sponsors are unusable for them due to the absence of pockets in shorts.
- After the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) pointed out to the tennis contingent that they were not supposed to wear shorts of brands other than Li Ning, the players turned up in taped clothing hiding their sponsor’s logo.
- Unlike other sports, tennis players cannot do with pocket-less shorts as they have to keep spare tennis balls in them.
- The matter at best can be described as an oversight on the part of the kit supplier. Since Li Ning is the official sponsor of the Indian contingent, the IOA could have spotted this oversight before delivering the kits to the tennis contingent.
- Men’s doubles top seeds Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan played their semifinal in taped shorts on Thursday.