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Asian Games: Leander Paes makes a return, no Mahesh Bhupathi as captain

Leander Paes will feature in the Indian tennis team for the Asian Games, with Yuki Bhambri getting an exemption as he will likely feature in the US Open.

tennis Updated: Jun 04, 2018 22:55 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Leander Paes,Yuki Bhambri,Asian Games
Mumbai: Tennis player Leander Paes at the Red Carpet of GQ Best Dressed 2018, in Mumbai on May 26, 2018. (Photo: IANS)(IANS)

While Leander Paes will be playing his first Asian Games since Doha 2006, the two crucial names missing from the squad are Yuki Bhambri and Mahesh Bhupathi as the All India Tennis Association (AITA) announced a 16-member tennis contingent for the quadrennial Games on Monday.

The SP Misra led senior selection committee excluded Bhambri from the squad “as he is likely to be in the main draw of the US Open”, which will begin immediately after the Asian Games. While tennis events at the Asiad will be held at Palembang from August 19 to 25, the US Open will take place in New York from August 27 to September 9.

India’s Davis Cup non-playing captain Bhupathi too will not be travelling to Indonesia due to two reasons.

“Firstly, Mahesh had called me earlier and asked to be excused from the Asian Games as he has some vital engagement during that period. The second reason is that only 20 percent of the number of athletes can be support staff which means 2.4. We are still sending four,” AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee said.

As many as 12 tennis players will be in action during the Asiad. While the men’s team includes Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sumit Nagal, Rohan Bopanna, Divij Sharan and Paes, the women’s team has Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale, Pranjala Yadlapalli, Riya Bhatia and Prarthana Thombare. Sharan is the only addition to the Indian team which won 3-2 against China in the Davis Cup Group 1 Asia/Oceania second round tie.

Zeeshan Ali will be coach-cum-captain of the men’s team whereas Ankita Bhambri will don the same roles for the women’s outfit.

Physios Gaurang Shukla and Anand Kumar will be the last two members of the contingent.

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In his response, Bhupathi said that he was told by AITA that they are sending only one coach-cum-captain which resulted in him recommending Zeeshan, who is the coach of India’s Davis Cup team.

“They said that they are sending only one person so I said send Zeeshan. I will prepare for Davis Cup,” Bhupathi said.

India will next travel to Kraljevo to take on Serbia in September in the World Group playoffs.

Meanwhile, Paes will be part of India’s Asiad team after 12 years. He has won seven medals at the event, including five gold. The last time he took part in the continental event, the 44-year-old won the men’s doubles gold with Bhupathi and mixed doubles gold with Sania Mirza in Doha 2006. He also became the most successful doubles player in Davis Cup history with a record 43rd win with Rohan Bopanna in April against China.

Teams for Asian Games :

Men: Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sumit Nagal, Rohan Bopanna, Divij Sharan and Leander Paes

Women: Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale, Pranjala Yadlapalli, Riya Bhatia and Prarthana Thombare

Support staff: Zeeshan Ali and Ankita Bhambri (men’s & women’s coach-cum-captain), Gaurang Shukla and Anand Kumar (men’s and women’s team physios)

First Published: Jun 04, 2018 14:52 IST