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HindustanTimes Thu,30 Oct 2014

Tennis

Starting fresh will be an advantage, says Somdev
Sharmistha Choudhury, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 12, 2012
First Published: 23:23 IST(12/10/2012)
Last Updated: 23:29 IST(12/10/2012)

The 27-year-old hasn't had it easy. From achieving a career-high rank of 62 in the world to giving up professional tennis for over nine months due to a shoulder injury, he's recently started taking baby steps in the gruelling ATP circuit. The ever-smiling Somdev Devvarman already considers himself to be an 'old guy' on the tour. "I'm no longer a newcomer. Can't believe how quickly I'm becoming an oldie though."

En route to the Erste Bank Open in Vienna (an ATP 250 event) Devvarman feels he's yet to get match sharp. "It's been a struggle but I'm not yet close to striking the ball as sharply as I used to. It's a question of doing this week in, week out. I've been in full training for sometime, since my doctor gave the green light," the world No 534 said.

Unlike the top players, who can afford to train for specific tournaments, Devvarman feels the lower-ranked ones have to work hard for over 30 tournaments a season. "Of the 30, I'll probably have 10 good ones, 10 bad ones and I'll be average in the remaining. I wish I could predict which would be the good ones but I'll always have the approach I've had since I began playing — give my best on the court."

His protective ranking of 85, which he'll take advantage of during the Australian Open, will help him once the 2013 season begins. "I'll make full use of the opportunity. It's good to be ending the year fresh since I've played about 60 matches less! But one thing is for certain. My goals and standards have changed."

Aiming high

Prod him further and he responds maturely. "I had set the bar high last time. When I debuted, the aim was to break into the top 100. After that, it was helping India keep their World Group berth in the Davis Cup. But today, the aim is to win more matches. I think the goal will be to break back in the top-100 but I’ll take it one step at a time." He was here at the Fenesta Open as a spectator.

Devvarman believes that if he gets back to a good level, rankings will follow. "Then I don't need to keep thinking how many points to defend, how many am I losing…" he adds.

He always works hard during the off season to sustain himself during the gruelling tour. "This year too will be the same. It's the same team. I've been hitting a lot with Sanam Singh since he's been in the States. Andy Roddick has said he won't lose a set to me this off season!" 

Indian tennis is infatuated with Davis Cup. "We put in an inexperienced team in Chandigarh and they delivered. Winning matches is not easy. But yes, next year will be tough as the level of Asian tennis has risen.” Having understood the saying 'never take anything for granted', Devvarman is hoping to begin 2013 with a good run at the Chennai Open.


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