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HometennisGold medal favourite Bopanna-Bhambri pair suffers shock exit, Ankita, Rutuja progress to...

Gold medal favourite Bopanna-Bhambri pair suffers shock exit, Ankita, Rutuja progress to pre-quarterfinals

In a huge upset,goldmedalfavouritesand top seeds RohanBopannaand YukiBhambriwere on Monday knocked out of the Asian Games after being stunned by lower-ranked Sergey Fomin and Khumoyun Sultanov from Uzbekistan, here.

Bhambristruggled with his serve and strokes in the latter part of the match while the Uzbeki players raised their game against their superior opponentstowalk away with a 2-6, 6-3, 10-6 win in the second round.

The defeat will rankle the Indianpairall the more asBopannais a top-10 player in doubles whileBhambritoo is ranked among the top-100. The Uzbekis are not even in the top-300.

Serving at 3-4, 30-all in the second set,Bhambriserved a double faulttogo down by a breakpoint. A wide backhand fromBhambri’s racquet handed the Uzbekis the crucial break.

Sultanov made no mistake in serving out the set by consistently putting in his first serves.

In the Super-tie breaker, the Uzbekis racedtoa 3-0 lead and soon the Indians were down 5-1. The Uzbekis pulled off a stunning service return winnertomake it 6-1 onBopanna’s serve.

Fomin earned four match points with a backhand winner. The Indians saved the first but Sultanov found an inside-out forehand winner on the secondtoclose the contest in their favour.

India coach Zeeshan Ali said thatBopannadid not get the required support fromBhambriin the match.

“At this level and being an experienced player, one cannot affordtomake many errors at crucial moments of the match. You havetobe abletograb any opportunity that presents itself,” Zeeshan told PTI.

“Not taking anything away from the Uzbekistan players, they probably played the best match of their lives, with nothingtolose. We had chances in the second set with a couple of break points at 3-all and, had we won that game, the outcome of the match would have been different.

Indians could not convert 12 of the 16 break-points in the match.

“Rohan played a good match but unfortunately did not get the required support neededtowin today from his partner who otherwise has been having a very good doubles season,” added Zeeshan.

Bopanna, at 43, is playing his last Asian Games. He had wongoldin the 2018 edition with Divij Sharan.

BothBopannaandBhambriwill now compete in the mixed double.BhambriandAnkitaRaina are top-seeded whileBopannaand Bhosale are seeded second.

Bopannahad ended his Davis Cup career last week, playing against Morocco in Lucknow.

Early in the day, India’s top singles tennis player Raina was offtoa flying start while Bhosale struggled past lower-ranked Aruzhan Sagandikovatomove into the women’s singlespre-quarterfinals.

Raina did not lose a single game in her second-round match and required just 51 minutestosend packing 17-year-old Sabrina Olimjonova from Uzbekistan 6-0, 6-0.

Ranked 198th in singles and winner of a bronzemedalfrom the 2018 edition, third seed Raina will now clash with Adithya P Karunaratne from Hong Kong for a place in the last-eight stage.

Sagandikova is ranked as low as 746 but it was far from an easy match for the Bhosale, who needed two hours and one minutetogo past her rival from Kazakhstan 7-6(2), 6-2.

The first set itself lasted one hour and 16 minutes as Bhosal, ranked 336th, hadtowork hard for the win.

The 13th-seed Indian’s next opponent is fourth-seed left-hander Alex Eala from the Philippines.

In the men’s singles, Ramkumar Ramanathan did not havetomove a sinewtomovetothe next round. His rival from Tajikistan Sunatullo Isroilov did not turn up for the contest, giving a walkovertothe Indian.

Ramkumar then combined with his second-seed partner Saketh Mynenitomovetothe men’s doublesquarterfinals, beating the Indonesiapairof Ignatius Anthony Susanto and David Agung Susanto 6-3, 6-2 in 68 minutes.

(Published 25 September 2023, 07:08 IST)

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