Four years after scripting history by becoming the first tennis player from Chandigarh to return with a gold from Guangzhou Asian Games, Sanam Singh came close to rewriting history again in the Incheon Asian Games on Monday.
Well almost. If the persistent rain that hampered the match and led to postponement of the men’s doubles final by almost three hours was not enough, the Korean doubles pair of Yongkyu Lim and Hyeon Chung frustrated Sanam and his partner Saketh Myneni even more with their dogged performance. In the end, the weather and the Korean pair emerged victorious as Sanam and Saketh went down fighting and lost 5-7, 6-7(2-7) to finish as the second best pair.
But despite their loss, both Sanam and Saketh earned appreciation from their coaches.
“One must remember that the Asian players have improved a lot in the last few years.
Especially Koreans and Japanese, they have improved by leaps and bounds. Sanam and Saketh played well against the Koreans and a silver is still a very good achievement,” said Gajendra Singh, Director Coaching of CLTA, under whom Sanam sharpened his skills during his junior days. Going into the match, both the players had displayed their successful camaraderie by winning four titles in the last two years, including the Kolkata and Delhi ATP Challengers this year.
Inspite of their perfect partnership, the pressure was all on the 26-year-old Sanam as after an early exit from the singles he knew he will have to settle for nothing less than a medal to justify his place in the Indian team and also to keep the faith of his mother Roopa Singh and his coaches alive.
“Sanam is playing at the top level now and my only concern about him is his health as injuries have kept him away from the game for the last three years. If he manages to remain fit he will continue to break new grounds,” added Gajendra. After his breakthrough performance four years ago at Guangzhou Asiad, where he partnered with Somdev Devvarman to win the men’s doubles gold, Sanam went on to achieve a meteoric rise. Not only he got his career-best ranking of 293 in singles, but also cemented his place in the Indian Davis Cup team.