Asian Games tennis: Favourites Bopanna-Bhambri pair suffer shock exit

Rohan Bopanna
Rohan Bopanna. Photo: File Image/PTI

Hangzhou: In a huge upset, gold medal favourites and top seeds Rohan Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri were knocked out of the Asian Games after being stunned by lower-ranked Sergey Fomin and Khumoyun Sultanov from Uzbekistan, here on Monday.

Bhambri struggled with his serve and strokes in the latter part of the match while the Uzbek players raised their game against their superior opponents to walk away with a 2-6 6-3 10-6 win in the second round.

The defeat will rankle the Indian pair all the more as Bopanna is a top-10 player in the doubles and Bhambri too is ranked among the top-100. The Uzbeks are not even in the top-300.

Serving at 3-4, 30-all in the second set, Bhambri served a double fault to go down by a break point. A wide backhand from Bhambri's racquet handed the Uzbeks 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 Uzbeks raced to a 3-0 lead and soon the Indians were down 5-1. The Uzbeks pulled off a stunning service return winner to make it 6-1 on Bopanna's serve.

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

Bopanna had ended his Davis Cup career last week, playing against Morocco in Lucknow. At 43, he is also playing his last Asian Games. He had won gold in the 2018 edition with Divij Sharan.

Both Bopanna and Bhambri will now compete in the mixed doubles. Bhambri and Ankita Raina are top-seeded while Bopanna and Rutuja Bhosale are seeded second.

Later Bopanna combined with Bhosale for a 6-4 6-2 win over Uzbekistan's Akgul Amamuradova and Maksim Shim to move to the mixed doubles pre-quarterfinals.

Bhosale also booked a berth in women's doubles second round with partner Karman Kaur Thandi. They beat Kazakhstan's Zhanel Rustemova and Aruzhan Sagandykova in one our and 33 minutes. The other Indian men's doubles pair of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Saketh Myneni progressed to the quarterfinals after beating Indonesian pair of Ignatius Anthony Susanto and David Agung Susanto 6-3 6-2 in 68 minutes. 

Top singles Ankita Raina was off to a flying start while Bhosale struggled past lower-ranked Aruzhan Sagandikova to move into the women's singles pre-quarterfinals.

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

Ranked 198th in singles and winner of a bronze medal from 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 minute to go past her rival from Kazakhstan 7-6(2) 6-2.

The first set itself lasted one hour and 16 minutes as Bhosale, ranked 336th, had to work hard for the win.

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

In the men's singles, Ramkumar Ramanathan did not have to move a sinew to move to the next round. His rival from Tajikistan Sunatullo Isroilov did not turn up for the contest, giving a walkover to the Indian.

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