The Indian tennis challenge at the Guangzhou Asian Games is set to be considerably depleted. Five gold and four Asian bronze winning, 12 Grand Slam champion Leander Paes won’t be part of the contingent this November.
“The World Doubles clash with the Games. That’s one trophy that’s missing in my cabinet and if Lukas (Dlouhy) and I click I do fancy our chances. As such, I won’t be able to make it to China. I have never backed away from playing for the flag but I need to try and win the biggest prize in world doubles,” says Paes. Though, the ATP is yet to confirm the pair’s confirmation in the final eight, Paes feels his lead of 865 points while placed third will be good enough with a few season enders as back up.
With both Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna also with a chance to qualify, things are looking gloomier for the Asiad chances.
“If I qualify, I will also have to look out for the interests of my partner Max’s ( Mirnyi) who has worked hard all year with me to get there. I can only take a final call when I know for sure.” Bopanna too has voiced similar sentiment within the team.
Together, Paes and Bhupathi have won --- Asian gold.
“Leander will qualify,” assures Davis Cup captain SP Misra.
“Out of Mahesh and Rohan another one is most likely to. Our best bet has always been the doubles and the mixed.
The Asian games have tougher competition that the Commonwealth Games because of the Chinese, Japanese and Korean players as the top players have dropped out of the competition in Delhi.”
With two of our top-players gone India’s tennis haul of — from Doha may well get hit down low in Guangzhou.
‘No role for Captain’
The exclusion of Davis Cup Captain SP Misra from anything to do with the Commonwealth Games has been a bit of a surprise for the gentleman veteran. “I was told by AITA that there is no role for a captain in Delhi. I would have liked to see the boys in action but I am cooling my heels in Hyderabad.” The captain has not received any invite to come and watch. Why? “That I don’t know,” says Misra. “They said that Jaideep (Mukherjea) would be captain for the Games.” With the full-strength Indian team at hand, Delhi is likely to yield far more medals than the Asian Games squad slated to be led by Misra.