Birthday: March 4
Place of birth: Bengaluru
First break: A national-level tournament in 2001
High point of your life: When I first got to play for India in the Davis Cup in 2002
Low point of your life: Not playing tournaments for nearly six months due to a shoulder surgery
Currently I am: Going to Europe to participate in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event
If not a tennis star, you would have been...
An athlete in another sport. I have always been interested in playing a sport as I love being outdoors. I also play golf.
Who was your biggest inspiration to take up sport?
My parents for sure. They made sure that I got the best training and were committed to showing me the correct way forward.
Are you looking forward to partnering with Sania Mirza in the Olympics at Rio, 2016?
Sania is currently playing the best tennis of her career. But it’s too early to say anything about Rio.
How does Leander Paes inspire you?
I always look up to him. He is playing so well even at this age and is remarkably fit. Watching Leander play and train is itself very inspiring.
What do you have to say about your favourite coach, Stefan Edberg?
Edberg is definitely my idol. The way he conducts himself is amazing. He is a true gentleman who has been very kind to me whenever we have met.
Which is your favourite Grand Slam or tournament venue?
Wimbledon has always been my favourite. In fact, my parents had gone to watch Wimbledon way back in 1975 and I had been hearing stories about its atmosphere from them ever since I was a kid.
Which non-tennis sportspersons or teams do you follow?
I love the Manchester United football team. They’ve been out of form recently but it’s nice to see them bounce back. I also like Tiger Woods, as I enjoy playing golf.
How would you explain your signature brand of tennis?
My style is to serve and volley. I have practised my serve for many years. It is very powerful now.
Is there anything that you would be embarrassed to reveal?
Nothing really. I’m a pretty open person. Even if it’s something embarrassing, I am happy to be candid about it.
What are you most comfortable in?
I can totally live in my T-shirts and shorts.
Your favourite street food.
In New York, there is this place called The Halal Guys that serves chicken and rice, which I love. In Indonesia, I love the fried rice.
After a long day of playing, you love to gorge on...
Japanese food. Sushi and sashimi are my favourites.
We’ve heard you’re a Bollywood buff. Whom do you like watching the most?
I like Aamir Khan and really enjoyed watching him in 3 Idiots.
The best thing about marriage is...
Getting to spend time together, travelling together and sharing wins and losses.
The craziest thing you’ve ever done.
In 2010, I had made a bet with my friend that if I reach the quarter-finals of the Chennai Open, I will shave my head. So when I did make it, I immediately went and got it done, even though we lost the match.
You are involved with several charities. What makes you do it?
I love giving back to society and every time I have an opportunity to do so, I feel happy.
Three things you’d want if you were stranded on an island.
Definitely my wife, Supriya, some food and swimwear.
If you were to insure a body part, what would it be?
My legs, most probably.
Your strategy in a crisis.
I’m calm and assess the situation before me.
Your fitness fundas.
I do a lot of interval training and footwork drills. Before matches, I like to take a 15-minute nap to prepare and focus my mind.
What advice would you want to give youngsters?
I have learnt a lot of things in the last ten years, so I can advise them on facilities as well as best training options available. But more than youngsters, I want to tell parents to support their child fully and also have faith in the coach.
Favourite cuisine: Japanese
Favourite film: Don and Sholay
Favourite player: Stefan Edberg
Favourite destination: The Maldives
Favourites sports film: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
From HT Brunch, October 25
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