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Asian Games 2023: Saketh-Ramkumar thwart South Korean pair to reach men’s doubles final

Before the Asian Games, the last time the pair of Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan played together was in an ATP 500 event in Dubai last year where they came in as wildcards but was dumped in the opening round. Cut to 18 months later, they stand at the cusp of claiming an Asian Games gold medal.

The duo avoided a slip up to make the final at the Hangzhou Olympic Tennis Centre on Thursday, overcoming a spirited South Korean team of Soonwoo Kwon and Seongchan Hong 6-1, 6(6)-7, (10)-(0).

In fact, since 2022, Ramkumar has had a successful pairing with Rohan Bopanna, winning two ATP 250 titles, while Saketh has teamed together with Yuki Bhambri and won seven ATP Challengers since April 2022. But when the pairing was announced for the men’s doubles at the Asian Games by the All Indian Tennis Association, Bopanna joined forces with Bhambri and Ramkumar and Saketh became a team once again.

“You should ask this to the federation [on the pairing]. They pick the teams and the players. The men’s were supposed to be six players, then it became five. Even with the girls, it was supposed to be six and then it became four. Those are the questions you don’t have answers to. Whatever chance you get, you come here and compete,” said Saketh.

Saketh, though, is happy to have a chance to add a gold medal to his tally after the loss in the final from 2014 Incheon and defend India’s men’s doubles gold from 2018.

“I am looking forward to the challenge [of playing another final]. I played nine years ago and hopefully, I will do one better. I am glad I am back here,” said Saketh.

The Indians started aggressively and broke early in the fourth game of the opening set to go 3-1 up. They held their serve well, despite their struggles with first services all match, before closing out the set 6-1.

The second set, however, was a closely fought one with India letting go of a 5-4 advantage with the Koreans breaking Ramkumar’s service to take the set to the tie-breakers and eventually the super tie-breakers.

Ramkumar and Saketh were superb on the return in serve as they confirmed their place in the final by galloping to 10 points in no time.

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