Guangzhou: Somdev Devvarman on Monday became the first Indian to reach the men’s singles final in the history of the Asian Games before winning the men’s doubles gold with Sanam Singh but Sania Mirza and Vishnu Vardhan had to be content with a silver in the tennis competitions, here today.
It was an extremely fruitful day for Somdev as he inched closer to a historic singles gold after pipping Japan’s Tatasuma Ito 6-2 0-6 6-3 in the semifinals to set up the summit-clash with top seed Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.
Later, he and Sanam Singh combined superbly to win first gold medal for India in the tennis event in this edition of the Games as the sixth seed pair shocked second seed Chinese Gong Maoxin and Li Zhe 6-3 6-7(4) 10-8 in the final.
However, gold eluded Sania yet again as she and Vishnu Vardhan, seeded sixth, lost the mixed doubles final 6-4 1-6 2-10 to second seed Taipei pair of Chan Yung Jan and Yang Tsung Hua.
Somdev and Sanam’s gold medal feat assumes significance as India landed here without star doubles pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, gold medallists of the last edition at Doha in 2006, who opted to play in World Tour Finals in London.
Rohan Bopanna is also missing from the Indian line-up though he had failed to qualify for the World Tour Finals.
Sania had on Sunday settled for a bronze medal in the women’s singles. At Doha Games she had won a silver in singles and had won a gold in mixed doubles with Paes.
Somdev, a gold medallist at Commonwealth Games, continued to be India’s flag bearer in the men’s singles.
Before him, no Indian had managed to enter men’s singles final and India had won only three bronze medals in men’s singles in Asian Games.
Leander Paes had won it in 1994 in Hiroshima Games and Mahesh Bhupathi and Prahlad Srinath had won it during 1998 Games in Bangkok.
Earlier, on the day, in the baseline slugfest that lasted almost two hours, second seed Somdev pocketed the opening set against Ito, ranked 195, with a measure of comfort but was then blown off the court by the fourth seed Ito, who clinched the second 6-0.
Things were looking difficult for the Indian world no 106 when he and his rival traded service breaks in the first four games. Somdev then staged an excellent rally under pressure by saving two break points in the fifth game.
That was the turning point as Somdev regained poise and broke his rival for the third time, this time decisively, before taking the set 6-3.
Istomin was too good for third-seeded Japanese opponent Go Soeda and completed a facile 6-1 6-0 victory.