New Delhi: India’s Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi cleared the air regarding Leander Paes’ absence from the 2018 Asian Games tennis team.
Leander pulled out of the quadrennial event in Jakarta and Palembang at the last moment, fuelling speculation that he had not been given a doubles’ pairing of his choice. “He was injured,” said Bhupathi.
“He had played a local tournament just before the Asian Games and he pulled out prior to Jakarta. Would you rather have me playing a semi-fit player than a fully fit one,” he added, addressing the question on Paes’ pull-out.
“Sumit (Nagal) has also been injured many times. Yuki (Bhambri) has been pulled out before. This isn’t unique to Leander.”
Eventually, it was the two highest ranked doubles players Divij Sharan and Rohan Bopanna who brought home the gold for team India. “Leander’s contribution would have been in doubles only. Divij and Rohan brought home the gold, so I don’t know what the fuss is about,” Bhupathi emphasised.
He also heaped praise on the Indian tennis contingent and their efforts this year. “Indian tennis has never been this strong. We have never had this depth in singles. Prajnesh (Gunneswaran), Ram (Kumar Ramanathan) and Yuki (Bhambri) have all done great this year,” said Bhupathi on the sidelines of a KIA Motors event in New Delhi.
“Ankita (Raina) and Karman (Kaur Thandi) also look to be performing well.” India won three medals in tennis at the Asian Games, including two individual bronze medals in singles.