Bopanna-Sharan land men’s tennis doubles gold at Asian Games

Palembang: Riding on their clinical performance on Friday, top seeds Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan clinched their maiden men’s doubles gold medal at the Asian Game.

Bopanna and Sharan defeated Aleksander Bublik and Denis Yevseyev of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-4 in 52 minutes.

Less than 20 minutes into the match, the Indians were 4-1 ahead, breaking Bublik and Yevseyev at the very first opportunity they got.

In no time, the top seeds were serving for the set with a 5-3 lead and Bopanna’s booming serve wrapped it up in style for them.

The Kazakhs had their moments but were undone by erratic play–a brilliant cross-court backhand winner one moment and a powerless return buried in the nets the very next minute.

In contrast, Bopanna and Sharan’s easy camaraderie shone through in the match and they displayed near-perfect on-court coordination.

Bopanna was particularly formidable from the baseline, displaying a good range of strokes to pull off some tough winners, helped by his brute power.

The second set went slightly better for Bublik and Yevseyev but they just could not rein in the unforced errors, including a double fault in the fifth game which could have cost them.

The Kazakhs had the faster legs between the two pairs but the Indians had the experience to negate that.

At 3-3, Bopanna and Sharan clinched the all-important break to go up and though they were pushed a bit in the very next game, the top seeds held serve to grab a 5-3 lead.

The Kazakhs held on in the next game but it only delayed the inevitable.

Serving for the match at 40-0, Bopanna didn’t really come up with the booming serve but the Kazakhs had been deflated enough and a feeble return went into the nets to give India the first tennis gold of the ongoing event.

India has now won gold in the men’s doubles event at four of the last five Asian Games. Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes won in 2002 and 2006 and Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh won in 2010.

While this is Bopanna first medal at the Asian Games, Sharan had won bronze in the same event with Yuki Bhambri in the last edition in Incheon.

(With inputs from PTI)

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