Veteran Leander Paes will have the opportunity to add to his Asian Games medal tally as he is set to be included in the Indian tennis team for the upcoming Games even as the country’s premier singles player Yuki Bhambri will prefer competing in the US Open if he makes the cut.
The AITA selection committee will meet here tomorrow to announce the squad and sources told PTI that the 44-year-old Paes, who skipped the last two editions, has confirmed his availability along with most of the leading men’s and women’s singles players, including Rohan Bopanna and Ankita Raina.
Yuki, ranked 93, has told AITA that if he gets direct entry into the last Grand Slam of the season, he won’t be available.
Yuki figures in government’s TOP Scheme for financial assistance but interestingly the youngster has not taken any fund so far as he was not willing to commit his availability for the Games since the tennis event in Indonesia will end just before the US Open, which could affect his recovery ahead of the Grand Slam.
As of now it is not known if Yuki will make the cut or not but AITA is bound to send the names of Indian squad members to the organisers by June 15.
Tennis events in Palembang are finishing just ahead of the main draw of US Open, beginning August 27. The US Open qualifiers are clashing with the Games.
The doubles players can play both Asian Games and US Open since the doubles event begins later in the first week of the Slam.
It’s a 32-hour journey from Palembang to New York and it will be impossible for Yuki to play both the events.
The selection committee, headed by S P Misra, will deliberate over it tomorrow. In case Yuki is not picked, Ramkumar Ramanathan (121) and Prajnesh Gunneswaran (183) are automatic selections for the men’s singles based on their rankings.
Paes, who has won eight medals at the Asian Games, has not competed in the prestigious quadrennial event since winning the men’s doubles gold with Mahesh Bhupathi and mixed doubles gold with Sania Mirza at the 2006 Doha Games.
Paes has won a singles bronze (1994), three gold in men’s doubles (1992 and 1996 with Bhupathi and 1994 with Gaurav Natekar) a men’s team gold (1994), a mixed doubles gold with Sania Mirza (2006), a mixed doubles bronze with Sania Mirza (2002) and a team bronze in 1990.
In five events — men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles — India can send two entries each.
For the women’s singles leading player Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi also select themselves due to their superior rankings.
It will be interesting to see which teams are chosen for men’s doubles. Paes and Bopanna had won the crucial China Davis Cup tie in April and if they again play together, it will be good for them to have a match before the Serbia tie.
For the mixed doubles, Paes and Raina can be paired while Bopanna and Prarthana Thombare can be the second entry.
In the women’s doubles, Ankita and Karman is expected to be the first choice pair and Thombare could be teamed up with Pranjala Yadlapalli.