India’s prospects at Asian Games 2018-Tennis

India ended up with 5 medals in tennis from 2014 Incheon Asian Games.Sania Mirza has been key player in the last four Asian Games for India.Soon to be ‘Mom’ Sania will miss Asiad this time.

Asian Games vs US Open—
Asian Games tennis schedule clashes with final Grand Slam of the year,US Open.India’s top ranked singles player Yuki Bhambri at no.99 has been exempted from Asian Games bound tennis squad by All India Tennis Association as he will directly play in main draw of singles at US Open.However other Indian singles players have been left disappointed as they will have to choose either Asiad or US Open qualifiers. Ankita Raina,Karman Kaur Thandi,Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran are all inside top 200 meaning they can play in the qualifiers for main draw of US Open.Instead all these youngsters have sacrificed money and ranking points by opting to play for the country.Medal hopes–
Ankita Raina at no.193 looks in good shape for a medal in singles.She has travelled alone since 2009 on the tour.She won two titles on ITF tour. Ankita lost in the first round of French Open qualifiers and made it to the second round of qualifiers at Wimbledon.20 year old Karman Kaur Thandi is in good form of late winning a title in ITF pro circuit in Hong Kong plus making it to semis of other two events in China.While Ankita takes inspiration from Rafael Nadal,Karman likes fighting spirit and attitude of Maria Sharapova. The girls will have a tough competition from countries like Japan,China and Korea.Among men Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh  Gunneswaran are medal hopes in singles.Ramkumar recently reached the final of an ATP event in Newport.Sumit Nagal is a back up player in singles.Seasoned Rohan Boppanna and Divij Sharan shoulder responsibility in doubles.N Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan also have a chance in doubles.What’s interesting is that 45 year old Leander Paes will likely partner Ramkumar Ramanathan in doubles.Eight times Asiad medal winner Leander has been mentoring Ramkumar for the past few months and knows his game well.It will be a dream for both to win  Asiad medal for India together.Tennis will be held at JSC tennis courts in Palembang,Indonesia from 19th to 25th August 2018.

Shailesh Padhye