Busan: For once, Leander Paes wasn’t the favourite in a mixed doubles match. In fact, he and 15-year-old Sania Mirza were up against it as they drew Japanese top seeds Shinobu Asagoe and Thomas Shimada in the first round of the Asian Games.
But, like he has done so many times in the past playing for his country, Paes rose to the occasion and guided the Hyderabad girl to a major upset at the Seumjeoong Tennis Stadium Tuesday.
On a day when India collected six medals, including two golds on the track and field (K.M. Beenamol and Bahadur Singh), the unseeded Indian pair won 6-3, 6-3 to earn a quarter final meeting with Thai pair Tamarine Tanasugarn and Vittaya Samrej.
The Indians dropped serve once, in the first set, but quickly regained the initiative to carve out a comfortable victory. “She didn’t show any nerves and returned quite well,” Paes said of his latest mixed doubles partner. “She did make some mistakes but overall, was solid. The best thing about her is that she is a quick learner.”
Mahesh Bhupathi and Manisha Malhotra ensured India a medal by moving into the semis with a 7-5, 7-5 win over the Chinese Taipei pair Chia Jung Chuang and Ye Tzoo Wang.
Vishal Uppal and Mustafa Ghouse saw off Chinese Taipei’s Jen Wri Chen and Ti Chen 6-1, 6-4 to make the quarter finals where they will face Japan’s Goichi Motomura and Shimada.
In singles, Sunil Kumar wasted his chances to take Motomura to a third set and went down 2-6, 6-7 (1-7) in the second round. Nirupama Vaidyanathan and Mirza also lost in straight sets to Asagoe and Saori Obata, respectively.
Ali Qamar trips
Calcutta’s hopes and India’s chances of winning a boxing medal suffered a setback when Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mohammad Ali Qamar crashed out in the quarter finals of the light flyweight category on Tuesday, adds PTI.
Qamar, a medal prospect after his superb show in Manchester, went down 11-21 to Harry Tanamor of Philippines at the Masan Gymnasium.
Qamar’s exit has diminished India’s medal hopes though Ramananand and Jitender Kumar have made it to the quarter finals.