Asian Games: Leander Paes returns, Yuki Bhambri gets exemption
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Asian Games: Leander Paes returns, Yuki Bhambri gets exemption

New Delhi: The iconic Leander Paes on June 4 made a comeback to the Asian Games-bound Indian squad while Yuki Bhambri was “exempted” as AITA threw its weight behind country’s top singles player in his quest for Grand Slam glory.

Paes, who has won eight medals at the previous editions of Asian Games, has not competed in the prestigious quadrennial event since winning the Men’s Doubles gold with Mahesh Bhupathi and Mixed Doubles gold with Sania Mirza at the 2006 Doha Games.

The AITA backed Yuki in skipping the Games in Indonesia, where tennis events will begin on August 19, saying there are not many Indians competing in the Singles at Grand Slams, thus, “the boy must be supported.”

Yuki, ranked 94, is expected to make the cut for the US Open and since the tennis events in Indonesia will conclude only two days before the New York Grand Slam begins on August 27, he could not have possibly recovered for the marquee event.

The selection committee chose to pick three singles specialists — Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sumit Nagal — and three doubles specialists — Paes, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan — in the men’s squad. The women’s squad will be led by leading singles player Ankita Raina.

Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale, Pranjala Yadlapalli, Riya Bhatia and Prarthana Thombare are the other players. All of them were chosen based on their rankings. India’s Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi had requested to be excused from the job and the AITA obliged.

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Zeeshan Ali was named the coach-cum-captain of the men’s squad while the women’s team will be guided by Fed Cup captain Ankita Bhambri.

June 6, 2018

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