Even before the start of 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta Palembang, India tennis contingent suffered a major setback when veteran Leander Paes pulled out of the games just before the start of the event. The 45-year-old was miffed at not getting a “specialist” men’s doubles partner for the upcoming games starting on Saturday.
The 18 time Grand Slams, was paired with Sumit Nagal after Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan were paired with each other by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) on their request. Paes who has won eight medals, which includes five gold was excluded from TOP Scheme but had made himself available for the Asian Games.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have to say that I will not be playing the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia,” Paes said in a statement sent to PTI. “Despite my repeated requests, from so many weeks in advance, it is sad that we have not been able to put a doubles specialist in the team for credible second doubles pairing for the Asian Games.”
In the current ATP ranking India as of now have five players in top-100 — Bopanna (32), Sharan (38), Paes (79), Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (88) and Purav Raja (90).
Paes, said that his absence would not affect India’s chances.
“Rather than affecting the team’s chances, I believe that my absence would only help the rest to play more events, be it doubles or mixed doubles,” he said.
“I have been in constant touch with Captain Zeeshan Ali and have had long discussions with him with regard to Rohan Bopanna’s injury. “I am happy to learn that Rohan has recovered and as such a doubles medal for India is almost assured. Without his availability it wouldn’t have been fair for me to withdraw as that may have impacted a possible gold from tennis.”