In an unexpected upset, Rohan Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri, considered gold medal favorites and top seeds, were eliminated from the Asian Games after being defeated by the lower-ranked duo of Sergey Fomin and Khumoyun Sultanov from Uzbekistan. Bhambri faced difficulties with his serve and strokes in the latter part of the match, while the Uzbekistani players elevated their game against their more highly ranked opponents, securing a 2-6, 6-3, 10-6 victory in the second round.

This defeat is particularly disappointing for the Indian pair because Bopanna is a top-10 player in doubles, and Bhambri is also ranked among the top-100. In contrast, the Uzbekistani players are not even ranked within the top-300.

During the second set, Bhambri, serving at 3-4 and 30-all, committed a double fault, giving his opponents a crucial break point. A wide backhand from Bhambri resulted in the Uzbekistani team securing the crucial break. Sultanov served out the set efficiently with consistent first serves.

In the Super-tie breaker, the Uzbekistanis quickly took a 3-0 lead, and the Indian pair found themselves trailing 5-1. The Uzbekistanis secured a service return winner, bringing the score to 6-1 on Bopanna’s serve. Fomin earned four match points with a backhand winner, and although the Indians saved the first, Sultanov clinched the victory with an inside-out forehand winner on the second match point.

India’s coach, Zeeshan Ali, noted that Bopanna did not receive the necessary support from Bhambri during the match, emphasizing the importance of capitalizing on opportunities in crucial moments. Despite acknowledging the Uzbekistanis’ strong performance, Zeeshan believed that India had chances to change the outcome, particularly in the second set when they had break points at 3-all.

The Indian team struggled to convert 12 of the 16 break points in the match. Bopanna, who is 43 years old, is participating in his final Asian Games, having previously won gold in the 2018 edition with Divij Sharan.

Following their exit from the men’s doubles event, both Bopanna and Bhambri will compete in the mixed doubles. Bhambri will partner with Ankita Raina as the top-seeded pair, while Bopanna and Bhosale are seeded second.

In earlier matches, India’s top singles player, Ankita Raina, enjoyed a strong start, while Rutuja Bhosale faced a tough challenge but managed to advance in the women’s singles event.

Raina dominated her second-round match, not conceding a single game and defeating Sabrina Olimjonova from Uzbekistan 6-0, 6-0. She is set to face Adithya P Karunaratne from Hong Kong in the pre-quarterfinals.

Bhosale, on the other hand, had a demanding match against Aruzhan Sagandikova from Kazakhstan. Although Sagandikova is ranked much lower, Bhosale needed two hours and one minute to secure a 7-6(2), 6-2 victory. Her next opponent will be the fourth-seeded Alex Eala from the Philippines.

In men’s singles, Ramkumar Ramanathan advanced to the next round without playing a match as his opponent, Sunatullo Isroilov from Tajikistan, did not appear, resulting in a walkover for the Indian player. Ramkumar also partnered with his second-seed teammate Saketh Myneni to progress to the men’s doubles quarterfinals, defeating the Indonesian pair of Ignatius Anthony Susanto and David Agung Susanto 6-3, 6-2 in 68 minutes.

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