The top seeded men’s doubles pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan had to dig deep to win their semi-final match at the Asian Games in Indonesia on Thursday. Prajnesh Gunneswaran too won a thrilling men’s singles match to enter the semi-finals, thereby ensuring another medal for India, while Ankita Raina had to settle for the bronze.
Bopanna and Sharan were the favourites against the Japanese combine of Usesugi and Shimabukuro, but the latter kept on testing their much-fancied rivals till the end. The Indians did not have a positive start and dropped the opening set.
The Japanese kept taking the ball extremely early and looked unfazed against the Indians as they peppered the court with winner after winner. The Indians managed to secure the vital break of serve to go up to 5-3 in the second set and forced a match tie-break.
There also they squandered a lead of 4-2 to allow the Japanese back into match tie-break and the scores got levelled at 5-5. In a tense finish, the Indians trailed 6-8 before mounting on a spectacular comeback, where they won four points on the trot to complete a 4-6, 6-3, (10-8) win.
World No. 189 Raina refused to be intimidated by her 34th ranked opponent, Shuai Zhang of China in the women's singles semi-finals. The India No. 1 went down a set and a break at 4-6, 1-3, from where she made a tremendous comeback to take the second set into a tie-break.
Even there, the Indian fought tooth and nail and saved three match points before the Chinese pulled through with a 6-4, 7-6(6) win.
The loss meant that Raina had to be content with just the bronze medal from the Asian Games 2018, that made her the first Indian to win a women’s singles medal since Sania Mirza last did it in 2010.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran confirmed India’s only medal from men’s singles at the Asian Games 2018. In a match that had a dramatic finish, the World No. 161 Gunneswaran had to battle for three sets, save a couple of match points, fight back cramps and a rain delay to secure a 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(8) win over Korea’s Soon Woo Kwon.
Prajnesh could not make use of four match points in the third set tie-break and rain halted the match with the two locked at 6-6, before the Indian could finally emerge victorious and confirm his medal.
In the mixed doubles quarter-final, Bopanna and Raina went down fighting 4-6, 6-1, 6-10 to the Indonesian combine of Christopher Rungkat and Aldila Sutjiadi. With that loss, the Indian contention came to an end in mixed doubles, without a medal.Published 23 Aug 2018, 23:11 IST