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Somdev-Sanam gives India doubles gold

By The Assam Tribune

GUANGZHOU, Nov 22 (PTI): Star tennis player Somdev Devvarman took centre stage by fetching a gold medal in doubles event and also becoming the first Indian to reach the final in men�s singles as India bagged three medals on the tenth day of competitions in the 16th Asian Games here today.

Somdev teamed up with Sanam Singh to clinch the title in the men�s doubles event and inched closer to a historic singles gold by moving into the final on what turned out to be a fruitful day for him.

Sania Mirza and Vishnu Vardhan had to be content with a silver in mixed doubles while the men�s archery team comprising Rahul Banerjee, Mangal Singh Champia and Jayanta Talukdar bagged a bronze in the team event.

With the addition of three more medals, India�s medal tally climbed to six gold, 12 silver and 18 bronze.

The day clearly belonged to Somdev as he pipped 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.

Before Somdev, 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.

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 and eventually tilted the scale in his favour.

The Indian trio of Jayanta Talukdar, Rahul Banerjee and Mangal Singh Champia fought through challenging conditions to clinch the men�s team bronze after beating Chinese Taipei in the Archery competition of the Asian Games here today.

Like the women, the Indian men defeated Chinese Taipei but with a more comprehensive 220-216 margin as compared to the women�s 218-217 victory in the bronze medal play-off.

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