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Asian Games 2023, Tennis Preview: Ankita eyes Paris 2024 spot as history beckons in Hangzhou

Rohan Bopanna will lead a nine-member Indian tennis contingent at the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Bopanna, who clinched men’s doubles gold with Divij Sharan in 2018, will again be the nation’s biggest hope for a podium finish while possibly pairing up with Yuki Bhambri this time.

However, the country will be among the underdogs in the singles categories, where the winners will not only receive gold medals but also book their spots for the Paris Olympics as continental champions.

World No. 159 Sumit Nagal, the 11th best in Asia, will be India’s sole representative in the men’s singles category after the Sports Ministry’s decision to exclude Mukund Sasikumar from the final squad.

READ – Asian Games: Tennis entry lists released, Rohan Bopanna only Top 10 player across all categories

Nagal, the 26-year-old from Jhajjar, had hip surgery in November 2021 and was outside the top 500 at the beginning of this season. While he has done well to win two Challenger titles this year, both of them came on clay. Tennis at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre will be played on hard courts, a surface on which Nagal has a 10-8 win-loss record (in all competitions) in 2023.

As per the entry list, Nagal is expected to be seeded fifth. While the Indian is coming after winning both his singles matches in the recent Davis Cup tie against Morocco, he is set to face tougher competition from local favourites Zhizhen Zhang and Yibing Wu. India’s best performance at Asian Games in men’s singles is the gold medal Somdev Devvarman won in 2010 in Guangzhou

Read our other stories on Asian Games – HERE

In women’s singles, World No. 184 Ankita Raina (16th in Asia) and World No. 228 Karman Kaur Thandi (22nd in Asia) will carry the Indian challenge. Both have mostly played on the ITF circuit this season. Ankita and Karman will be seeded third and seventh, respectively as per the entry lists which features home favourites Qinwen Zheng (World No. 22) and Zhu Lin (World No. 31).

Ankita, who won the bronze medal in 2018 and has played some matches on the WTA Tour this season, seems to have the best chance out of the three Indians in singles in terms of finishing on the podium. However, she would have to play consistently at a high level to go one step further than Sania Mirza’s silver medal-winning performance from 2006 and become the first Indian woman to clinch singles gold at the continental event.

Indian tennis squad for Asian Games

Men’s Singles: Sumit Nagal

Men’s Doubles: Rohan Bopanna, Yuki Bhambri, Saketh Myneni, Ramkumar Ramanathan

Women’s Singles: Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi

Women’s Doubles: Prarthana Thombare, Rutuja Bhosale

Mixed Doubles: Sumit Nagal, Rohan Bopanna, Ankita Raina, Karman Thandi

24th September 2023, Sunday

Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles and Mixed Doubles first round – 7:30 AM IST

25th September 2023, Monday

Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles second round, Men’s and Women’s Doubles first round – 7:30 AM IST

26th September 2023, Tuesday

Women’s Singles third round, Men’s Doubles second round, Mixed Doubles second round – 7:30 AM IST

27th September 2023, Wednesday

Men’s Singles third round, Women’s singles Quarterfinal, Men’s Doubles Quarterfinal, Women’s Doubles second round – 7:30 AM IST

28th September 2023, Thursday

Men’s Singles Quarterfinal, Women’s singles Semifinal, Men’s Doubles Semifinal, Women’s Doubles Quarterfinal, Mixed Doubles Quarterfinal – 7:30 AM IST

29th September 2023, Friday

Men’s Singles Semifinal, Women’s Singles Final, Men’s Doubles Final, Women’s Doubles Semifinal, Mixed Doubles Semifinal – 7:30 AM IST

30th September 2023, Saturday

Men’s Singles Final, Women’s Doubles Final, Mixed Doubles Final – 7:30 AM IST

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