Top seeds Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan got their first men’s doubles Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta on Friday. They defeated Aleksander Bublik and Denis Yevseyev of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-4 in 52 minutes.
Less than 20 minutes into the match, the Indians were 4-1 ahead, as they converted their first break point.
The top seeds were serving for the set with a 5-3 lead and Bopanna’s booming serve clinched it.
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 on the next point.
In contrast, Bopanna and Sharan displayed near-perfect on-court coordination.
Bopanna, with his brute power, was particularly formidable from the baseline, displaying a good range of strokes to pull off some tough winners.
The second set went slightly better for Bublik and Yevseyev but they just could not reduce the unforced errors.
The Kazakhs were faster than the Indians, but the latter’s shot-making was superior.
At 3-3 in the second set, Bopanna and Sharan clinched the all-important break. And, the Kazakhs, now more alert, were hard to score against in the next game but the top seeds held serve to grab a 5-3 lead.
The Kazakhs held in the next game. But the Indian duo finished the match in the 10th game of the set.
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.