Asian Games: Somdev clinches historic gold, archer Deepika misses bronze (Afternoon Lead)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

GUANGZHOU - Somdev Devvarman clinched a historical singles gold medal in men’s tennis singles while 16-year-old archery sensation Deepika Kumari could not live up to the expectations as she lost the bronze medal match 2-6 to Kwon Un Sil of North Korea in the women’s individual recurve event at the Asian Games here Tuesday.

Somdev stunned top-seed Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-1, 6-2 and became the first Indian to win a singles gold. The gold capped India’s successful tennis campaign here and took it to the seventh spot in the medal’s tally.

In archery, Deepika struggled from the beginning against the seasoned Kwon, losing the first two rounds 25 -27 and 26-28. The Indian came back strongly in third, shooting two pefect tens and winning it 29-26. Deepika shot an ordinary 26 in the fourth and the North Korean pounced on the opportunity to seal the match and the bronze, with an impressive 28. Deepika had won the team bronze earlier.

At the Aoti Tennis Stadium, Somdev dominated the title clash of an hour and 22 minutes at the Aoti Tennis Stadium from start to finish as World No.40 Istomin committed a stream of errors and struggled with his serve, making as many as eight double-faults.

Somdev, who partnered Sanam Singh for a gold in doubles, was fourth after Leander Paes (Hiroshima 1994), Mahesh Bhupathi (Bangkok, 1998) and Prahlad Srinath (Bangkok 1998) to win a singles medal in tennis at the Asian Games.

With Somdev’s victory, India finished their tennis competition with five medals –two gold, one silver and two bronze medals. They bettered their performance number of medals won in Doha, where India won two gold and two silver.

The performance stands out in the absence of Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, who had all pulled out of the Asian Games as they are busy playing in the World Tour finals.

Somdev himself played part in three of those medals. He combined with Sanam Singh to clinch the men’s doubles gold after guiding the men’s team to a bronze medal. Sania Mirza, who won the singles bronze, combined with Vishnu Vardhan for a silver in the mixed doubles event.

The Tripura boy showed amazing stamina throughout the competition, having played 15 matches in the ten-day event. The Indian was off colour during his scratchy three-set win over fourth-seeded Tatsuma Ito of Japan.

However, the second-seeded Indian dispelled any doubts over his indifferent form this day. The Indian’s cause was boosted by mounting errors from Istomin and he gradually raised his game to make it a lopsided battle. His serve which was left wanting a day before was also on target and he even hit five aces in the match.

The Uzbek was good only in flashes and could never regain his rhythm.

The Indian sprinted to a 5-0 lead and was serving for the first set, but was broken to gift Istomin his first game. He, however, immediatelty broke back to go up a set.

The Uzbek showed signs of resurrection in the beginning of the second set as he fared better on his serve and put pressure on Somdev’s.

In fourth game, Somdev had two breaks points when Istomin’s serve was wrongly called out. A frustrated Uzbek flung his racquet in anger as the Indian surged to a 3-1 lead.

Istomin drew his revenge in the next game, notching up three break points. Somdev saved one with a volley but was broken in the second.

The Indian, however, did not allow the momentum to shift. He broke back immediately and then consoliated the break with an easy hold, for a 5-2 lead.

Serving to stay in the match, Istomin faltered again and double-faulted to bring up the match point and then shanked a return to give the Indian the set and the match.

Filed under: Tennis

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