Asian Games tennis: Somdev-Sanam win gold, Sania-Vishnu silver

Monday, November 22, 2010

GUANGZHOU - Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh fetched India its sixth gold medal at the Asian Games, winning the tennis men’s doubles but Sania Mirza and Vishnu Vardhan had to settle for a silver in the mixed doubles here Monday.

Sixth seeded Somdev and Sanam outlasted Chinese Maoxin Gong and Zhe Li, seeded-second, in a see-saw clash 6-3, 6-7(4), 1-0(8) while Sania and Vardhan blew up a one set lead to lose 6-4, 1-6, 0-1(2) to Chinese Taipei’s Yung Jan Chan and Tsung Hua Yang.

Somdev is also in line for a second gold as he entered the men’s singles final with a scrappy victory over fourth-seeded Japanese Tatsuma Ito 6-2, 0-6, 6-3. He plays top seed Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the final. Istomin outclassed third-seeded Japanese Go Soeda 6-1, 6-0.

Somdev, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, breezed through the first set in 35 minutes but his game fell apart in the second. Somdev’s serve troubled him and his mounting errors only made things tougher for him.

In the decider, the second-seeded Indian dropped his serve in the third game but broke back immediately to level. He then snatched a decisive break in the sixth game to serve out the set and the match.

Somdev was back in court for his doubles final with Sanam. The Indian pair was in command in the first set, before the Chinese, backed by an enthusiastic home crowd, hit back with a vengeance.

Sanam, a University of Virginia student, and Somdev, a graduate of the same university besides being a two-time National Collegiate for Athletic Association (NCAA) champion, combined well to dominate in the first set and broke the Chinese in the seventh game to go up a set. Sanam had to make up for an off-colour Somdev, who was struggling with his service.

However, the Chinese came back stronger in the second set, with Maoxin showing excellent reflxes at the net and pouncing on every opportunity to finish the points.

Maoxin and Zhe targetted Somdev’s serve, breaking the top seeded Indian in the first and the fifth game but dropped their serve in the fourth and the sixth to take the set to the tie-break.

At the breaker, the Chinese leapt for their chances at the net and put up an inspirational display and soon it was a set all.

In the super tie-break, Indians took an early lead, taking advantage of the errors that flew thick and fast from the Chinese racquet, and held on to it to clinch the gold after the

one-hour-45 minutes clash.

An ecstatic Sanam, once considered a tennis prodigy before he went to US to pursue his studies, hugged Somdev and the two pumped their fists to the tiny Indian gathering which erupted in celebration.

Their victory means that India will retain the men’s doubles gold which was won by two doyens of Indian tennis Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi at Doha in 2006.

However, Sania could not repeat her the performance at Doha, where she got a gold in the mixed doubles event with Paes.

Sania, who had to be content with a bronze in singles, fell short of a gold this day as well. After comfortably notching up the first set, Sania and Vardhan struggled to find their rhythm in the second.

In the super-tie-break, Yang single-handedly put Chinese Taipei ahead while Indians slumped to a slew of errors. A double fault by Sania at the match point ended Sania’s hopes of a gold medal and the 24-year-old could do little but flung her racquet in despair.

Filed under: Tennis

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