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AweSom guns down Moya

sports Updated: Jan 08, 2009 23:51 IST
Sukhwant Basra
Sukhwant Basra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Pundits will predict and those in the know will nod, but only hardcore victory can force the eternal skeptics to crawl back into their narrow little shells.

They said he does not have a weapon, they said he has no serve and they stressed that the professional tour is very different from the collegiate tennis where he had been winning. Somdev Devvarman has shut them up real good!

On Thursday, Devvarman broke the spirit and the tenacity of former French Open champion and present world number 42 Carlos Moya to triumph 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in a two-hour-13-minute classic that will forever reverberate in the history of Indian tennis as the day of revolution.

It is easy to go overboard after witnessing the first Indian make the quarters of this event after Leander Paes' run to the semis in 1998, but then the euphoria stands on the bedrock that is Devvarman's potential. One has the feeling that it is not misplaced.

To put things in perspective it need be stressed that Moya did not lose, Devvarman beat him.

He bettered him in a duel of age versus experience but most importantly, he bettered him in grit.

Way beyond skill lies the domain of pure grit.

Anybody can hit the tennis ball, but to do so with the same fluidity of stroke and movement for over two hours under a sapping sun talks of heart. It speaks of a man who does not know the meaning of giving up.

"I won today but I know I am going to lose a lot too. For me it's the way you lose that counts. I never want to quit out there… I sent him the message that I was not just going to go away no matter what he threw at me," was Devvarman's realistic take later.

"He plays better than what his ranking shows. The heat got to me and I was feeling very tired. But he was better prepared for the conditions," said Moya.

"He has the potential to be top-100 in the future and not too distant in the future," he went on to predict.

But even in defeat. Moya taught Devvarman a few important lessons. The Indian's inability to consistently smack running backhand passes and his loopy retrievals that pop deep but have little bite were two aspects that Moya consistently exploited. While Devvarman's serve has improved in leaps and bounds — he served 10 aces two of which were on second serves — a question mark still hangs over his volley.

The point is that if he is already so good despite carrying these drawbacks, just imagine what level he would reach once he has weathered the tour long enough to iron them out. It has largely been a painful experience watching Indian players pitted against the world's best. On Thursday, Devvarman held out the tantalising promise of a revolution.