No Asian Games for Paes, Mirza, Bopanna

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Sania Mirza with Mahesh Bhupati
New Delhi, Sep 10: Indian tennis stars Leander Paes, Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna will skip the Asian Games being held in the South Korean city of Incheon from Sep 19 to Oct 4, to focus on the professional circuit.

The participation of these players had remained a big question mark after top singles player Somdev Devvarman decided to miss the continental Games to focus on getting back into the top-100 in the world.

All India Tennis Association (AITA) president Anil Khanna Wednesday said in a statement that Paes, Mirza and Bopanna's request to give the Asian Games a miss has been granted. They are now free to play Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women's Tennis Association (WTA) events which will help them in improving their rankings which will further enable them to take part in the year-ending tour finals.

"In respect of Asian Games, special circumstances have developed where it is necessary for the players to participate in ATP and WTA events to protect their rankings and to give the additional push to qualify for the year-end World Masters," said Khanna.

"Considering the important requirement of players, the AITA has decided to respect their requests and allow them to play the ATP/WTA tournaments so that they can have a respectable opportunity to represent the nation in the World Championships to be held at the end of the year."

The AITA statement also explained the reasons for the players missing out on the Asiad.

"Leander has always been a top-10 player. But his ranking has substantially dropped from 6th to 36th as he could not protect the points won in 2013 US Open where he was the winner. He is required to participate in the remaining three Asian tournaments which coincide with the Asian Games to protect his rankings," said Khanna.

On Sania, the statement said: "Sania is currently No.7 and she along with her partner Cara Black is in race for the 2014 Championship at Singapore. In case she qualifies it will be a great achievement for an Indian woman sportsperson. Sania wishes to take part in two WTA events in Asia, which are coinciding with the Asian Games as she also has to protect 1,900 points that she had won in 2013."

The statement gave similar reasons for Bopanna.

"Rohan is in a similar situation as two ATP events in which he is to participate are coinciding with the Asian Games. He is also defending points from Tokyo tournament which he had won in 2013."

IANS

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