After a gap of 12 years, Eight-time Asian Games medalist and India’s ace tennis player, Leander Paes returns to the 12-member Indian squad for the Asian Games 2018 to be played in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Paes won his first Asian Games medal (Bronze) back in 1990. But this was just a start as he followed that up with two Golds and a Bronze in the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima (Japan). In 2002, he won the Men’s Doubles Gold with Mahesh Bhupathi and Mixed Doubles Bronze with Sania Mirza.
It was in Asian Games 2006 (Doha, Qatar) when Paes last represented India in this quadrennial event and this time he took home a gold medal in both Men’s Doubles and Mixed doubles with Bhupathi and Sania respectively.
This year has been a remarkable one for the veteran. He won the Davis Cup Doubles match against China to bring India back into the tie, after they lost two Singles matches on day one in the Asia Oceania Group I tie. With that win he became the most successful Doubles player in Davis Cup history.
The All India Tennis Association allowed India’s highest-ranked Singles player, Yuki Bhambri to pull-out from the event for his preparation towards the last Grand Slam of the year, US Open. It gives a window for Ramkumar Ramanathan (ranked 121) to lead the Men’s Singles with Prajnesh Gunneswaran (ranked 183).
The experience of Leander Paes will be given the first entry in the Mixed-Doubles with Ankita Raina while Rohan Bopanna will partner Prarthana Thombare as the second entry at the event from India.
Leander Paes will turn 45 years old, by the time the Asian Games start in August, 2018. But the Indian legend has once again proved that age is just a number for him and will continue to proudly represent the country even after 28 years since he first played for India at the Asian Games in 1990.
Here’s the Indian Tennis contingents for the Asian Games:
Women: Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale, Pranjala Yadlapalli, Riya Bhatia, Prarthna Thombare.
Men: Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sumit Nagal, Rohan Bopanna, Divij Sharan, Leander Paes.