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‘Unsure when I will get my first title’

He plays the game the hard way. And the latest entrant into the top-100 club, Somdev Devvarman, is ready to take the intensity a notch higher to survive in more competitive waters. Deepti Patwardhan reports.

sports Updated: Aug 04, 2010 00:28 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

He plays the game the hard way. And the latest entrant into the top-100 club, Somdev Devvarman, is ready to take the intensity a notch higher to survive in more competitive waters.

“I think I'll have to be mentally very focused,” Somdev told HT after he reached a career high of 96 on Monday.

Following an appearance in the second round at last week's LA Open, where he entered as a qualifier, the Indian garnered enough points to break into the top-100 for the first time in his career. The fact that he could not defend his points at the Washington Open, and is likely to lose some ground, though points to the depth on the ATP Tour and the weekly competition it entails.

“There're no easy wins out there anymore and I'm going to have to earn every single win. As always, I'll have to focus on my game and focus on getting better overall. It's a continuous process so it's not about to stop anytime now.

“I've been playing guys inside the top hundred for a couple years now. It's the question of bringing my A game out more often to be prepared to beat some of these guys. I'm just going to have to be more consistent with my performance,” he said.

The 25-year-old, born in Tripura and bred at the University of Virginia, took only over two years, steadily rising through the ranks, to break into the pack.

“I've obviously always wanted to get here and I'm happy I achieved one of my first goals this year. I really think my best stuff is in front of me.”

It was the first time in 11 years since Leander Paes dropped out of the top-100 that an Indian was included in the bracket. But Somdev, already some sort of a Davis Cup hero, bears the burden lightly.

“When you're on the tour you forget about all of that. There are a lot of players out here who are in similar situations and all of us just compete against each other and forget about everything else.”

The biggest benefit of making the top-100 breakthrough in the ATP rankings would be that the Indian tennis player would now get a direct entry into Grand Slam main draws.

‘It’s tough to stay there consistently’

PTI adds: On whether the milestone could have been touched earlier, Somdev said, “Not really. I’ve still only been on the Tour for two years. It’s not easy to break into the top 100 and it’s just as tough to stay up there consistently.”

Ever since his breakthrough year in 2009, when he made the final of the Chennai Open, expectations from the tennis star have risen. The maiden ATP title is yet to come but Somdev is not in a hurry. “ But I think the most important thing right now is not to worry about titles but to keep working on my game,” he said on Tuesday.