[ 2006-12-14 09:20 ]
medallist China's Zheng Jie (R) shakes hands with silver medallist India's
Sania Mirza during the award ceremony for the women's singles tennis final
at the 15th Asian Games in Doha December 13, 2006.
The Indian fans
should be content at the Khalifa Tennis Courts in Doha on Wednesday as their
hero Leander Paes led a strong charge to take home two titles from the men's and mixed doubles at the Asian Games tennis tournament.
In an earlier final of the women's singles,
their sweetheart Sania Mirza lost to Chinese Zheng Jie, but the 20-year-old
Indian rallied to join Paes later in claiming the mixed doubles title after
playing three finals within eight days.
"I'm very excited, it is emotional to win a gold medal for my country. After
playing so much tennis, my work finally got paid," said Mirza, who also led the
Indian team to the women's team final on December 6 but finally lost to Chinese
Paes also demonstrated his toughness as the doubles veteran partnered Mahesh
Bhupathi to survive seven match points in a gripping men's doubles final against Thai twins Sanchai
Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana to win the gold medal right before the mixed
"There are so many Indian people here, and I think that helped to push the
Indian team along," said mixed doubles silver medal winner Satoshi Iwabuchi from
Japan. "I thought that after playing so many matches he (Paes) would be tired,
but he didn't seem to be. "
Paes, who played the Asian Games for the first time at the Beijing Games in
1990, became the most successful male tennis player in singles and doubles in
the Games' history, belting four gold and two bronze medals.
Laurels should be given to Chinese Zheng Jie too as the 23-year- old shrugged
off the effect from the shouting Indian crowd to beat Mirza in a full-set
thriller 6-4, 1-6 and 6-1.
"All those voices in the crowd affected me, because I could not calm myself
down, so for the first and second sets, I played quite conservatively, I thought
I played in a soccer match," said Zheng, who used to play in the India Open in
2005, describing the playing atmosphere as "terrible".
"But in the deciding set, I played more aggressively, and tried to push the
pressure from myself to Mirza. I am under pressure but I think I've handled
well," added Zheng, capturing three breaks to win the third set at 6-1 and the