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After impressing in Chennai Somdev looks ahead

Somdev Devvarman gets candid with HT about playing for India, appearance money and how the 'lack of facilities' in India is just an excuse for non-performance.

sports Updated: Jan 13, 2009 01:27 IST
Sukhwant Basra
Sukhwant Basra
Hindustan Times

Somdev Devvarman gets candid with


about playing for India, appearance money and how the 'lack of facilities' in India is just an excuse for non-performance. Excerpts:

First there is a dream. Then comes the sweat. What's your dream, Somdev? Why do you do this?

Since I was a kid, I always dreamt about being a superstar athlete - not in terms of being famous but rather to be great at sport. That translated into tennis. At 15-16, I began to learn how hard it was going to be but you don't let the dream go away. You work hard and slowly you start believing you can make it.

How far are you from that dream?

Pretty far (grins). Not at all close. Yes, it is still very far.

This sudden attention from the press, new fans… a bit overwhelming?

Things have begun to change around me a lot, especially in India. Whether I win or lose, the important thing is that I should not change. That's anyway how you get better and better. You don't worry about the press and you don't worry about fame. You just keep working to get better and better.

Would you have made it this far had you stayed in India?

That's a hard question. But I would like to believe that I would have been sitting in this place sooner or later, for I feel I have that -belief in myself. Of course, a lot of people in my college (University of Virginia) have helped me immensely and without their support, this may not have happened.

What about the facilities in India?

I hear a lot about that - about facilities and infrastructure not being great. People keep talking about the Indian system and problems. When I was training with Andy (Roddick), it wasn't that we were using these world-class gyms. We went out every single day for three weeks on a simple track. Tell me you can't find a track in India and I am going to be shocked. Every single day we busted our ass and I was throwing up after each session.

I don't think that comes down to facilities, it comes down to sheer determination, will and how much you are willing to sweat every single day… Sometimes that's what is lacking. Also, everyday you have to sit in the ice bath for fifteen minutes to recover, that's not fun, it sucks. You are never going to hear people like that (those who work) bitch about facilities.

What does playing for the flag mean for you? Will you go to places like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to play Davis Cup while giving up points and prize money on the Tour?

100%. It is a super commitment for me. If I am ever called to play Davis Cup, I will be there 100%. I will show up and want to play all the time. Four people get to represent India in DC. It's an honour, very humbling to be part of that group. I hope I never let go of that feeling of excitement I felt when I was first called for the squad. If I ever let go of that, then I will have to kick myself hard on the ass to put things back in perspective (smiles). I would love to play for the country every single time. It's a matter of pride.

Some Indian players have not played in Indian tournaments in the past on account of appearance money issues. What does your heart say about playing in front of home crowd?

I know I am young and that things can change but right now, I would like to imagine that I am never going to play for money. When you are growing up as a kid, you don't think I want to do this because I want to get rich or because I want fancy cars.

Or the women?

And the women, of course (laughs). You want to do this for you like doing it. I am doing this for I enjoy the sport. I love it. I don't see myself having that appearance money thing in mind.

It's a tough life on tour, Somdev. Travelling for 35 odd weeks, no time for a social life… You think you will cope fine?

I just started and it's been great so far. And you do travel with cellphones. Then there's email and now Facebook. Funny enough but people stay in touch that way. As for the social life, I don't miss anything. I don't have the urge to go out. I am in love with what I am doing right now. There's no urge to do anything else. Let's see if it changes.

First Published: Jan 12, 2009 23:41 IST