The All India Tennis Association agreed to field Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan as a team at the Asian Games on request of the two players which means that veteran Leander Paes will team up with young Sumit Nagal, PTI reported.
Bopanna and Sharan had requested AITA and the Sports Ministry to pair them. The AITA at its Executive Meeting (EC) discussed the matter and accepted Bopanna and Sharan’s request.
“Yes, the EC has decided that Rohan and Divij will play as a team,” a source told the news agency on Saturday.
Since Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran will focus on singles, the third singles player left in the squad is Nagal.
Paes and Nagal will be fielded as India’s second team at the Asian Games, scheduled to begin in Indonesia from August 18. The Indian veteran will team up with Ankita Raina, India’s leading women’s singles player. Prarthana Thombare and Bopanna will be the second mixed doubles team.
Paes will play in the Asian Games in August for the first time since 2006, as the veteran Indian tennis player was picked in the 12-member squad for the tournament in Jakarta.
Paes has won eight medals at the Asian Games, but has not competed in the prestigious quadrennial event since clinching the men’s doubles gold with Mahesh Bhupathi and mixed doubles gold with Sania Mirza at the 2006 Doha Games.
Paes has won a singles bronze (1994), three gold in men’s doubles (1992 and 1996 with Bhupathi and 1994 with Gaurav Natekar) a men’s team gold (1994), a mixed doubles gold with Sania Mirza (2006), a mixed doubles bronze with Sania Mirza (2002) and a team bronze in 1990.
The AITA had also allowed India’s highest-ranked singles player Yuki Bhambri to skip the Asian Games considering he is likely to get an entry into the main draw of the US Open. The tennis event at the Asian Games will end just before the US Open, which could affect the 25-year-old’s recovery ahead of the Grand Slam and this is why he was given an exemption.