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Leander injured, may be fit for quarters

Busan: It was a very common sight, a scary one as well. Dr Vece Paes wrapping a thick ice-pack around Leander’s ankle at the Geumjeong Tennis Stadium on Monday afternoon. As Rohan Bopanna and Sunil Kumar worked out on court, a glum Leander sat courtside looking clearly worried.

Some minutes back, he had twisted his right ankle trying to retrieve a ball from the backcourt. “It’s hurting a bit now but there’s nothing much to worry about,” said the torch-bearer of Indian tennis. “I should recover in a day or two.”

India open their campaign against Games babes East Timor on Wednesday, so Paes can relax and let Bopanna and Kumar do the job. The quarter final will only be on Thursday, so Paes will have two clear days to get fit.

A player can enter a maximum of three events. The teams and individual doubles are certainties, so Paes has to decide between individual singles and mixed doubles to complete his quota. For the time being, he is in for singles.

He has a day or two to inform captain Anand Amritraj whether he wants to ignore singles and enter mixed doubles. The individual events don’t start before Monday with the draw scheduled for Friday.

“I am looking at two medals, the teams and men’s doubles,” Paes stated, sounding a lot less confident than he did a month back. “I missed the last Asian Games so I want to make up for lost time.”

India can hope for a third medal from Mahesh Bhupathi and Manisha Malhotra. There aren’t any high expectations from the women’s team, which also starts off Wednesday with an easy match against Mongolia. Chinese Taipei will be up next for Nirupama Vaidyanathan & Co. and that will be real tough.

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