'We tried our best every match, every single point and extremely happy that we could finish with a silver'
Ramkumar Ramanathan and Saketh Myneni settled for the men's doubles silver medal at the Asian Games after being edged by Chinese Taipei's Hsu Yu-Hsiou and Jason Jung but India's hopes of winning a gold from the tennis courts is still alive with the mixed team reaching the title clash, in Hangzhou on Friday.
The Taipei team was unseeded but both Hsu (182) and Jung (231) were better-ranked singles players and it showed in their ground strokes and the way they went about their business in a 6-4 6-4 victory against the second-seeded Indians in the title clash.
Hsu was solid from the baseline with his strong serve, while Jung complimented him with his lightning fast hands at the net.
It is Ramkumar's first Asian Games medal and third for Myneni, who had won a men's doubles silver with Sanam Singh and a gold with Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles in the 2014 Incheon edition.
"It is my first Asian Games medal, I always wanted to win a medal for India. It was one of my goals and that too coming with Saki (Saketh), very happy about it," Ramanathan said.
"We tried our best every match, every single point and extremely happy that we could finish with a silver.
"Asian Games is huge and obviously, it's a huge thing to win a medal. But every tournament for us is as huge as the Asian Games. This is a profession, we do this for a living, and we enjoy what we do. Hopefully, we can get more medals for the country the next time," added Ramkumar, who has endured a tough 2023 season.
The duo of Rohan Bopanna and Rutuja Bhosale outplayed the Chinese Taipei combine of Chan Hao-ching and Yu-Hsiou Hsu 6-1, 3-6, 10-4 in the mixed double semifinal.
In the men's doubles gold medal match, no team lost a point in the first three games. It was only when Jung double-faulted in the fourth game that a team scored a point on the rival's serve.
It was 2-2 with all four players holding their serves as some high-quality serving was on display.
Ramkumar's serve was under pressure when Hsu found a stunning forehand winner to go up 30-0. It was 30-all when Jung hit a service return winner to earn the first breakpoint of the match.
The Taipei team got the break with Jung finding a volley winner. Hsu consolidated the break for a 4-2 lead as he hit deep returns from the baseline and the Indians committed a few unforced errors.
Jung struggled a bit with his first serve but his partner was terrific at the net.
Coming out to serve for staying in the set, Ramkumar began with a double fault but made up for that with a couple of aces.
The Taipiei team closed the set in their favour with Hsu maintaining his serving rhythm.
In the second set too, it was Ramkumar's serve that came under pressure. At 15-30 in the third game, he served a double fault to hand the Taipei team two break chances but saved both to hold.
Ramkumar's forehand return sailed over the baseline when Myneni served at 15-all in the ninth game and the following forehand service return winner from Hsu gave the Taipei players two break chances.
They saved the first but Jung smashed a backhand volley winner on a feeble Myenei return to grab the chance.
Ramkumar's wide forehand gave three match points to the Taipei team which triumphed when Myneni's backhand flew over the baseline.
"Unfortunately we came one short but very happy with whatever we played this week. I think we played some good tennis, and credit to Chinese Taipei today in the final. So very happy with the contribution with the medal to the Indian contingent," Myneni said.
"It's a privilege to play for a country and wear the tri-colour and compete. I think very few times we do that in a year. So it's a great competition, a great event. So glad we could make a contribution."