Asian Games 2018, Day 6: Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan clinched India’s first and their maiden men’s doubles gold in tennis at the ongoing 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia. The Indian duo defeated the Kazakhstan pair of Denis Yevseyev and Aleksandr Bublik in straight sets by 6-3, 6-4 in 52-minutes on Friday. Also Read - Prajnesh Gunneswaran to Divij Sharan - Indian Tennis Players Talk on COVID-19 Outbreak: Not Just Money, We Are Losing Time Too
Bopanna-Sharan dominated the final encounter with a thoroughly clinical performance over Bublik and Yevseyev in the men’s doubles gold medal match. Less than 20 minutes into the match, the Indians were 4-1 ahead, breaking Bublik and Yevseyev at the very first opportunity they got. Also Read - Long Break From The Tour Could Prove to be Detrimental: Divij Sharan
In no time, the top seeds were serving for the set with a 5-3 lead and Bopanna’s booming serve wrapped it up in style for them. The Kazakhs had their moments but were undone by erratic play — a brilliant cross-court backhand winner one moment and a powerless return buried in the nets the very next minute. Also Read - Davis Cup Qualifiers: India Lose 1-3 to Croatia After Sumit Nagal Crushed by Marin Cilic
In contrast, Bopanna and Sharan’s easy camaraderie shone through in the match and they displayed near-perfect on-court coordination. Bopanna was particularly formidable from the baseline, displaying a good range of strokes to pull off some tough winners, helped by his brute power.
The second set went slightly better for Bublik and Yevseyev but they just could not rein in the unforced errors, including a double fault in the fifth game which could have cost them. The Kazakhs had the faster legs between the two pairs but the Indians had the experience to negate that.
At 3-3, Bopanna and Sharan clinched the all-important break to go up and though they were pushed a bit in the very next game, the top seeds held serve to grab a 5-3 lead.
The Kazakhs held on in the next game but it only delayed the inevitable.
Serving for the match at 40-0, Bopanna didn’t really come up with the booming serve but the Kazakhs had been deflated enough and a feeble return went into the nets to give India the first tennis gold of the ongoing event.
India have claimed the men’s doubles gold on four occasions at the Games, the last pair being Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh in the 2010 Guangzhou edition. Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes remain the most successful Indian men’s doubles pair in the Asian Games history, having claimed back-to-back gold medals in the 2002 and 2006 Games.
Paes had stunned the Indian team this time by pulling out on the eve of the Games after complaining of not getting a specialist partner of his choice.
In 2014, Saketh Myneni and Sanam had ended with a silver medal. Earlier, India bagged their first medal in Tennis on Thursday courtesy an impressive performance by Ankita Raina, who lost in the semifinals to China’s Wang Yafan.
India have now 23 medals which include six gold, four silver and 13 bronze.
ASIAN GAMES 2018 MEDALS TALLY
(With Agency Inputs)