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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Tennis

'Playing at home a heady feeling'
Sharmistha Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, September 17, 2012
First Published: 00:08 IST(17/9/2012)
Last Updated: 01:28 IST(17/9/2012)

It was hot, humid and a dead rubber. Did it matter? Not to the few who had shown up on the last day of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I relegation tie.

After all Sanam Singh, the first local lad since Sunil Kumar to play the event, gave India their fifth victory to seal a whitewash over New Zealand on Sunday afternoon.

When the 24-year-old made his Davis Cup debut against Uzbekistan in April, a dream became a reality. "I'm ready for it," he had shyly said. Unfortunately, fate had other plans in store.

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After playing the first rubber, he was struck by chicken pox. Since then, he's been working hard to strengthen his upper body and legs.

Following friend Somdev Devvarman's advice, Sanam's already got the basics right by training with his friend's trainer last off-season.

The scorching Chandigarh heat saw Vishu Vardhan say he was 'losing his legs' while Yuki Bhambri took time to get his act together. So, does he think he is the fittest of the bunch?

Too hot
"It's tough playing in such humid conditions. Unless you're in that situation, you really can't say. It was so hot that we had to change our shorts and shirts every three games!" he joked.

As he brushed aside Artem Sitak's challenge, 6-4, 6-1 in a little over an hour, the crowd went crazy. Requests for photographs and autographs kept him on his toes till he managed to get away from the CLTA Stadium.

"It's tough to describe what I'm feeling right now! To have played my first home tie at home... it's very special," said Sanam.

Playing in Malaysia next week, he will leave for the United States after that and end his season in November. "I'll probably be with Som's trainer again in the off-season. The main challenge is to maintain the training when playing. I have to keep working on the shoulders, do proper rehab," he added.

Despite having a good year on the circuit, he's yet to find a sponsor.

Did it affect him that he was playing a dead rubber? "It didn't matter. You get nervous every time you represent India. I had a goal and that was to win the fifth rubber. I'm happy that I managed to do it," he smiled, happy to have met his target.


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