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Hungry for more success

While most players are happy just to share the court with the likes of Federer and Nadal, the best players of his generation, Somdev Devvarman believes he could have done better. Deepti Patwardhan reports.

sports Updated: Mar 30, 2011 01:18 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

If you live in Somdev Devvarman's world, it's not about putting your feet up and looking back on a successful first quarter, but jumping up on your feet and working towards an even better remaining three-quarters of a season that matters.

The 26-year-old Indian, in his third year as a tennis pro, has had an eventful past two months or so -- scripting wins over top-50 players Janko Tipsarevic and Marcos Baghdatis, playing against top-10 players Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and David Ferrer, and equalling Leander Paes's career-high mark of 73 in the rankings. And the last thing he wants to do is rest on those laurels.

"I have been playing well these past couple of months," Devvarman said, on Tuesday, during a teleconference organised by the ATP World Tour.

"I need to play at this level more consistently; the goal now is not to get satisfied but be hungry for more success. It's a long year ahead."

While most players are happy just to share the court with the likes of Federer and Nadal, the best players of his generation, the Indian believes he could have done better. His assessment, at a media conference at the Indian Wells Masters, on what he thought of the two, was that they were "beatable".

"All the matches were very different," Devvarman, recalling his contests against Federer, Nadal and Ferrer, said. "The first one, where I played Federer, I was in awe. Against Nadal, I thought I was up there, playing well. In the match against Ferrer the conditions were hot. We were both struggling a little bit.

"I wouldn't say I am happy with any of those matches. I am not going to take pride in a loss. But if I had to pick, I would have to say my best performance was against Nadal; I had my chances in that match."

Coming off the US college tennis circuit with remarkable success, Devvarman hit the ground running as a pro. While he did well in spurts and made it to the top-100 last year, the player seems to have turned a corner this new season.

Self-belief is key
Devvarman believes he's gaining more focus now. "I thought, earlier, I was hitting the ball well in practice, putting my foot forward, but when it came to match situations I was a little double-minded. Putting faith in my training has made a huge difference to my game," he explains.

"I knew I was playing better tennis towards the end of last year and wanted to make that into a habit this season. I have worked on my serve, coming up to the net, and the forehand, but fitness was the base for it all."

And, as an athlete, he awaits his toughest test in the sport - the demanding clay season. Devvarman will kick-off with the US men's clay court championship in Houston, on Monday.