Top seeds men’s doubles pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan assured India of at least a silver medal in tennis by reaching the finals of men’s doubles event at the Asian Games at Palembang on Thursday.
The Indian duo, who don’t have much experience of playing together, defeated K. Uesugi and S. Shimabukuro of Japan in a hard fought semi-final encounter by 4-6, 6-3 , 10-8.
After getting a set down, Bopanna & Sharan came back strongly to break the service of Japanese pair and won the second set with ease by 6-3.
In the most important tie-breaker, both the pairs went neck to neck but it was Japanese pair who took a important lead of two points at a crucial moment by 8-6 but the experienced Indian duo held their nerves and won four back to back points to seal their spot in the Gold medal match.
In the finals, they will be up against either Kazakh pair of Bublik and Yevseyev or Japan’s duo of Y. Ito and Y. Watanuki. The win in the semis must have given the Indians a lot of confidence and they are well on their way to a gold medal.
However, it was a big heartbreak for Ankita Raina who fought really hard against World no. 32 China’s Zhang Shuai but went down in straight sets 4-6, 6-7 (6-8).
World No 189 went to a flying start after breaking Zhang’s service twice but couldn’t hold the momentum and lost the set by 4-6.
In second set, she was two games down but came back strongly to force the set into tie-breaker where she saved 3 match points but eventually lost the match by 4-6, 6-7 (6-8).
Although, she won the bronze medal and gave India’s third medal in women’s singles at the Asian Games with Sania Mirza being the only other Indian to do so (silver in 2006, bronze in 2010).
Prajnesh Gunneswaran will be in action soon against South Korea’s Kwon Soonwoo in the quarterfinals of men’s singles of Asian Games 2018.
India is currently on 9th position of the medal tally with 16 medals (4 Gold, 3 Silver, 9 Bronze).