Leander Paes pulls out of Asian Games

Leander Paes, who won two gold medals in the last Asian Games that he had competed in Doha in 2006, has withdrawn from the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, with a ‘heavy heart’.

Miffed Leander Paes to miss Asian Games.

Leander Paes, who won two gold medals in the last Asian Games that he had competed in Doha in 2006, has withdrawn from the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, with a ‘heavy heart’.

After having had long discussions with captain Zeeshan Ali over the last few weeks, the 45-year-old Leander decided to write to the All India Tennis Association (AITA), expressing his decision, on Thursday.

Basically, Leander had been left as the odd man among three doubles specialists in the team, once Rohan Bopanna decided to partner Divij Sharan.

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After his repeated requests to get one of the doubles specialists from among Sriram Balaji, Vishnu Vardhan, Purav Raja or Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan drafted into the team, Leander decided that it was futile making the numbers.

“Our doubles specialists Sriram Balaji, Vishnu Vardhan, Purav Raja and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan have been doing exceptionally well this season and one of them definitely deserved to strengthen the Asian Games squad,’’ Leander wrote.

Three singles specialists did not make sense, as the current edition of the Asian Games does not have team events, and only two singles players can be fielded by a team.

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Thus, Sumit Nagal, the Asian Indoor Games champion may not get a chance to compete in singles, as Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran have been playing exceptionally well.

There was a thought that Ramkumar could team up with Leander for doubles, but the Atlanta Olympics bronze medallist, who was with Ramkumar when he made the Newport singles final recently, was categorical that the young man deserved to focus on the best medal in singles.

“I would love to play doubles with Ramkumar, but considering that he has a golden chance to win the singles medal, it is not fair to distract him,’’ Leander observed.

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Leander said that he was relieved to find that Rohan Bopanna had recovered from his injury and had reached Palembang for the Asian Games.

“I am happy to learn that Rohan has recovered and as such a doubles medal for India is almost assured’’, Leander said, wishing the squad ‘all the best’ in the Asian Games.”