CHENNAI: Leander Paes, who last played on the ATP World Tour in February, will return to play for India at the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia. That wasn't the only decision All India Tennis Association (AITA) took on Monday. They also named Zeeshan Ali as coach-cum-captain (regular skipper Mahesh Bhupathi will return for Davis Cup duty in September), apart from allowing Yuki Bhambri to skip the event in favour of US Open.
Many had expected Bhambri, World No 93, to be named in the squad. But AITA took the decision after its Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee had a chat with the player on Monday. Yuki conveyed that if he is in the main draw of US Open, he will not be available for Asian Games. AITA accepted his reasoning and exempted him from the intra-continental bash. While the tennis competitions will not clash (August 19-25) per se, AITA and Bhambri — who is a part of Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme — felt that there was too little turnaround and recovery time as US Open begins on August 27.
However, India's top doubles players, Rohan Bopanna and Paes, who last played in Asiad in 2006, and Divij Sharan, will be in Palembang before jetting off to New York, as doubles matches begin only on August 29. There is enough time for our doubles players to play in Indonesia before making it to New York, Ali told Express. Doubles at Flushing Meadows don't begin till August 29, so they did not have the problem of this or that.
They will be with us till 25th before landing there. The country's other men's players could have gotten into the qualifiers of US Open, but decided to shun that for a chance at glory with India. That's a decision they (Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran) have taken. They have said that they would be available to play for India.
There are no surprises in the women's team that will be led by Ankita Raina, who played in the qualifiers of French Open. Apart from Raina, the team also features the likes of Karman Kaur Thandi and Pranjala Yadlapalli, among others.Considering that India returned with five medals (one gold, one silver and three bronze) from Incheon in 2014, this contingent will have their task cut out to even match that haul. Squad: Men: Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sumit Nagal, Divij Sharan, Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna. Women: Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale, Pranjala Yadlapalli, Riya Bhatia, Prarthana Thombare.