Top seed pair Rohan Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri suffered a shock exit from the Asian Games 2023 in men's doubles tennis in the second round. One of the favourites for the Gold medal, Bopanna and Bhambri disappointed as they lost 2-6, 6-3, 10-6 to lower-ranked Sergey Fomin and Khumoyun Sultanov from Uzbekistan.
The loss is going to sting both Bopanna and Bhambri since they are in the top 10 and top 100 doubles rankings and the Uzbekistan pair is not even in the top 100.
The serve and strokes from Bhambri hurt India more than they thought. At 3-4 with 30-all in the second set, Bhmabri conceded a crucial break to the Uzbekistan pair serving a double fault. The wide backhand didn't help further as Sultanov was ready for it all by consistently putting the serves to their place.
After the match India coach Zeeshan Ali admitted that the senior statesman Bopanna didn't get the required support from Bhambri. "At this level and being an experienced player, one cannot afford to make many errors at crucial moments of the match. You have to be able to grab any opportunity that presents itself," Zeeshan was quoted as saying to PTI.
The failure to convert 12 of the 16 break-points further mounted India's problems. The Uzbekistan pair were miles ahead in the game and that was visible in how they went about their business in the Super tie-breaker. Fomin and Sultanov raced to a 3-0 lead and soon India were down 5-1. A stunning service return meant Uzbekistan were 6-1.
India saved one of the four match points earned by Fomin but eventually, the Uzbekistan pair proved to be too good. And the India coach admitted that as well.
"Not taking anything away from the Uzbekistan players, they probably played the best match of their lives, with nothing to lose. 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," Zeeshan added.
Bopanna has though moved to the quarter-finals in the mixed doubles event with Rutuja Bhosale in the Asian Games.
(With PTI inputs)