Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan and India's men's doubles duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are heavy favourites for Asian Games gold.
updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
Busan:Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan and the Indian men's duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are heavy favourites for Asian Games gold in singles and doubles respectively. The lure of bringing home a medal for his nation will bring ATP No. 31 Paradorn here after the greatest win of his career, a 6-4, 6-3 quarter-final ouster of world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt at the ATP Japan Open. Paradorn went on to lose to Denmark's Kenneth Carlsen in the semi-finals, but his best year on tour has included a second round victory over Andre Agassi at Wimbledon and his first ATP title, coming at Long Island the week before the US Open. "This could be the biggest, bigger than Andre, because he is number one in the world," Paradorn said. "If I keep my level high, I can play with anybody". At the Asiad, his rivals are nobodys. Paradorn's draw opens with Kyrgystan's Eduard Koifman. Qatar's Nasser Al-Khelaifi, ranked 1,015, is likely next with Taiwan's No. 189 Lu Yen-Hsun in a quarter-final. Uzbekistan's Oleg Ogorodov, rated 148th, is the highest rated possible foe in the semi-finals with Paradorn's only likely test a possible final against South Korea's 79th-ranked Lee Hyung-Taik or Japan's No. 110 Takao Suzuki. Paes and Bhupathi are re-uniting after splitting up six months ago. They have won three Grand Slam doubles titles together. Bhupathi won his first US Open men's doubles crown last month with new partner Max Mirnyi of Belarus. The desire to bring India a gold medal has brought Bhupathi and Paes together again. "Some of us have to put our best foot forward rather than sit back and say there is pressure. You just have to go deal with it," Paes said. "Would you rather we not try to bring India a gold medal? We're professionals. We have to go out and be professionals about it and play for our country. I will put myself out there for India. I think in doubles we have the best chance to get a medal," he added. (PTI)