Irked at not getting a “specialist” men’s doubles partner, 45-year-old Leander Paes has pulled out of the 18th Asian Games that begins in Jakarta-Palenbang in two days from now. “It is with a heavy heart that I have to say that I will not be playing the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia,” Paes said in a statement.
Disappointed with the ongoing mess in context with the selection of players, Coach Zeeshan Ali said that “Leander Paes’ last-minute pull-out from the 18th Asian Games needs to be respected but it has dealt a telling blow to India’s medal prospects in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles.”
Following a series of conversations with Paes over his decision to step back from the Asian Games, Ali said –
“It is obviously very disappointing to not to have Leander. It is a big blow to us. But then again he is a complete professional. It is his decision completely and his patriotism for the country cannot be questioned.”
The former Davis Cupper Zeeshan said that his focus is now is to rejig the doubles combination after Paes’ pull-out.
The development took place when the all-time- charismatic player Paes was asked to team up with Sumit Nagal after the All India Tennis Association (AITA) agreed to pair Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan, the country’s top doubles players, on their request.
Responding to AITA’s decision, Paes had said that “It is with a heavy heart that I have to say that I will not be playing the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia,” Paes said in a statement sent to PTI. “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 a credible second doubles pairing for the Asian Games.”
Ali has time till 10 am on Saturday to submit the names of the players but hopes to come to a conclusion after another practice session in the evening on Friday.