Indian ace Leander Paes on Thursday announced his decision to withdraw from the 18th Asian Games to be held in Indonesia, citing not getting a 'specialist' doubles partner for the tournament.
"Despite my repeated requests, from so many weeks in advance, it is sad that we have not been able to put a doubles specialist in the team for credible second doubles pairing for the Asian Games." Paes said in a statement to PTI.
The Indian tennis contingent has three doubles and singles players each. Ramkumar Ramanathan, Pragyanesh Gupeshwaran. Sumit Nagal were named in the singles category, while Rohan Bopanna, Dijij Sharan and Leander Paes were named in the doubles category.
India's top-ranked doubles pair Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan were paired together. Therefore, it was necessary for Paes to team up with a singles player. While Ramkumar, who is a singles player primarily, plays doubles occasionally. On the other hand, Nagal has had a poor run of form, coming into the Asian Games. He has has lost nine straight first-round matches in the Pro circuit. Questioning the country's sport governing body's decision, Paes asked why AITA didn't field two specialist doubles teams.
"Ramkumar Ramanathan is a very good player, and I would love to play doubles with him. But considering that he has a golden chance to win the singles medal, it is not fair to distract him from his best event," Paes said further in the statement.
Leander Paes was to mark his return to the Asian Games after missing the previous two editions. The 45 year-old has had enjoyed eight podium finishes at the Asian games - which consists of three gold medals.
The veteran tennis player decision comes as major setback to India's medal chances two days before the start of the showpiece event in Indonesia. However, Paes asserted that his absence would not affect India's medal chances.
"Rather than affecting the team's chances, I believe that my absence would only help the rest to play more events, be it doubles or mixed doubles," he concluded.
(With PTI Inputs)