Top tennis stars skip Asian Games

For those upset about the country’s No.1 tennis player, Yuki Bhambri, skipping the Asian Games, there is some consolation as the majority of Asia’s best players are missing the event.

Kei Nishikori will give the Asian Games a miss.   -  AP

For those upset about the country’s No.1 tennis player, the 99th-ranked Yuki Bhambri skipping the Asian Games and opting to focus on the US Open, there is some consolation as the majority of Asia’s best players are missing the event.

The Japanese provide a classic example, as their top-7 players, ranging from the 22-ranked Kei Nishikori to the 206-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka, the champion of the last Asian Games in Incheon, have chosen to skip the Games.

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With Japan focusing on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, the race is to have as many players as possible in the top-100, and they appreciate the importance of competing in the Grand Slams to achieve the target.

Of course, India will have the 117-ranked Ramkumar Ramanathan and the 171-ranked Prajnesh Gunneswaran to do national duty in the Asian Games tennis in Palembang.

Korea’s No.1 player, Hyeon Chung, ranked 23, who had won the men’s doubles title in the last edition of the Asian Games at home, will not play the Games, and so will be the case with Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin, ranked 86 in the world.

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The 76-ranked Denis Istomin, who had lost the final to Somdev Devvarman in the 2010 Games in Guangzhou, will spearhead the challenge for Uzbekistan along with a bunch of minor ranked players, like Farrukh Dustov and Sanjar Fayziev who have been on Davis Cup duty.

Chinese Taipei will not have Yen Hsun Lu, formerly ranked No.33, who has slipped down to 156.

Jason Jung (115) and Tsung Hua Yang (211) of Chinese Taipei along with Aleksandr Bublik (172) of Kazakhstan and Lee Duckhee (239) of Korea will be some of the other prominent players in the Asian Games.

The women’s field will be a lot more competitive with world No.32 Shuai Zhang of China all set to be the top seed, in the absence of the 17th ranked Naomi Osaka of Japan.

Even though Su-Wei Hsieh (42) of Chinese Taipei, Yulia Putintseva (50) of Kazakhstan, Zarina Diyas (63) of Kazakhstan and Zheng Saisai (64) of China, will be missing, the presence of the 53rd ranked Wang Qiang of China, the defending champion, along with runner-up Luksika Kumkhum (91) of Thailand, and Wang Yafan (93) of China should make it lively.

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Duan Yingying (110) of China, Sabina Sharipova (123) of Uzbekistan and Miyu Kato (168) of Japan will be the other players, ranked higher than Ankita Raina (193) and Karman Kaur Thandi (198) in the women’s draw.

The Chinese men, Ze Zhang (182), Di Wu (275), Yibing Wu (329), Li Zhe (281) and Zhang Zhizhen (425) will be in strength, even though they are not as big a force as they had promised.