Paes to partner Ramkumar for Asian Games doubles?

Following his runner up performance at Newport, Ramkumar Ramanathan has emerged as a likely partner to 18-time Grand Slam champion Leander Paes in the upcoming Asian Games.

Leander paes had won the doubles gold with Mahesh Bhupathi and mixed doubles gold with Sania Mirza, the last time he played the Asian Games in Doha in 2006. It will be interesting to see him make a heady concoction by blending his craft with Ramkumar Ramanathan's big game.   -  R. Ragu

It is no secret that Ramkumar Ramanathan will be one of the bright prospects for a medal in the Asian Games in Palembang next month. However, what is known only in the tennis circles, in mere whispers, is that the 23-year-old from Chennai, ranked 115 in singles, is likely to partner the 18-time Grand Slam champion Leander Paes for doubles in the Asian Games.

While Rohan Bopanna made his choice to partner Divij Sharan from among the three candidates mentioned to him, the 45-year-old Paes had to really scratch his head to make a sensible option. The general impression was that Leander would have no option but to partner Sumit Nagal, who had won the junior Wimbledon doubles title in 2015.

READ: This is just the start, says Newport runner-up Ramkumar

Ramkumar, who looks up to Leander and has been constantly guided by the Olympic medallist on the Tour, would only be too happy to partner his idol.

"I would love to play doubles with Leander. And hopefully we can get a medal for our country. It will be nice to play with him. I would like to thank Leander and Sanjay (Singh) sir, for their inputs and their effort towards me," said Ramkumar when contacted in the US, after he had played the final in Newport.

Leander had returned to the circuit after months and was right on hand with Ramkumar in Newport, a venue where he had won the last ATP singles title by an Indian in 1998.

Possibly in the best phase of his career, Ramkumar would obviously have loved to compete in the US Open and carry on the momentum that he has generated for himself with a striking performance. "It is a pity that the Asian Games comes the same week as the US Open qualifiers. But, I will take it in the right spirit. We are going to try and get a medal for the country which is equally important. I have no regrets about missing the US Open," said Ramkumar, who
is yet to make the main draw of a Grand Slam.

ALSO READ: Ramanathan must work on consistency, says Devvarman

Will the cream of Asia make to the Asian Games to pose hurdles for the likes of Ramkumar? "I have to do some work and see who are all playing. My focus will be on playing well," said Ramkumar, who is scheduled to play in Washington DC after the current event in Atlanta.

Ramkumar will try to play an event in Asia before the Asian Games, but has not made any concrete plans for it yet.

Leander had won the doubles gold with Mahesh Bhupathi and mixed doubles gold with Sania Mirza, the last time he played the Asian Games in Doha in 2006. It will be interesting to see him make a heady concoction by blending his craft with Ramkumar’s big game.

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