Counter-puncher Sumit Nagal blunted the challenge of big-serving Beibit Zhukayev with his perseverance while Ankita Raina outgunned Adithya P Karunaratne without fuss as the two Indians inched closer to singles medals by reaching the quarterfinals at the Asian Games on Tuesday. Kazakhstan’s Zhukayev served big but Nagal controlled the points better for a 7-6 (9) 6-4 in a riveting men’s singles third round while Raina cruised to a 6-1 6-2 win over her Hong Kong’s opponent in the third round of the women’s singles event.
(Asian Games 2023 Medals Tally | Asian Games 2023 Full Schedule)
The semifinalists are assured of bronze medals in the tennis event at the Games.
However, the singles challenge of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Rutuja Bhosale came to a halt at the Asian Games.
Nagal’s movement on the court and the immense retrieving ability was a delight to watch as several times Zhukayev went for drop shots but Nagal reached the ball to fire winners.
Zhukayev was sending down powerful serves and his ground strokes too packed a lot of power were but Nagal is not someone who would feel threatened rather he kept the ball in play since he always had an advantage if the points were long.
After saving two set points, Nagal pocketed the opening set by sending down a widish backhand which Zhukayev failed to return, making a volley error while going for a winner.
A break in the fourth game of the second set handed Nagal early advantage as he led 4-1. In the long-drawn seventh game, Nagal saved two breakpoints but the Kazakh finally got the break with a forehand winner down the line.
The 26-year-old shut the door on the Kazakh with another break in game 10 when Zhukayev buried a backhand on net on second match point.
Raina, the top Indian woman singles player at 198, converted all three breakpoints she got in the one hour 34-minute contest and saved two of the three breakpoints she faced against her 354th-ranked rival.
She will now fight it out with Japan’s Haruka Kaji (ranked 213) for a place in the semifinals.
Ranked 336, Bhosale was up against higher-ranked Alexandra Eala (190) from Philippines and went down fighting 6-7 (5) 2-6 in one hour and 51 minutes.
In the men’s singles, Ramkumar took the court against world number 78 Yosuke Watanuki and it was always going to be a tough contest for the Indian, who has been terribly out of form this season.
To his credit, Ramkumar stretched his superior Japanese rival, who had to battle hard for his 7-5 6-7 (3) 7-5 win in two hours and 40 minute match.
Both Ramkumar and Bhosale are still alive in the doubles competitions.
However, Bhosale and her partner Karman Kaur Thandi bowed out of the women’s doubles after a 5-7, 2-6 defeat against Thailand’s Anchisa Chanta and Punnin Kovatitukted in 1 hour and 59 minutes.
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