Sidharth Rawat seeks fresh start at ITF Lucknow
Delhi pro is among six Indians who have been given direct entry into the singles main draw of the ITF $25K event
Out of the three tournaments he played this January, Sidharth Rawat, the Indian No. 6 in singles, finished runner-up in back-to-back ITF events in Jakarta after exiting from the opening qualifying round of the ATP 250 Pune. The two good finishes boosted the confidence of the 29-year-old but he failed to impress in the following three Challenger events at home, making first-round exits in all of them in February.
The Delhi pro was expected to cash in on the home conditions, especially on the hard courts of the RK Khanna Tennis Complex where he played the ITF $25K Men’s Open in New Delhi last week. However, he made a second-round exit there too, losing to eventual finalist Yusuke Takahashi of Japan in straight sets.
A week after that loss, Rawat is seeking a fresh start in his quest to find success with an impressive show in the Lucknow leg of the ITF $25K men’s tour. The tournament starting on Tuesday at the Ekana Sportz City also marks the launch of the international standard tennis facilities here. The Lucknow event is followed by two more ITF tournaments in Mysuru and Chennai.
“Yes, I want to start afresh. I enjoy my tennis on a hard court and here the facility is of top quality,” said Rawat after hitting some crisp volleys on the newly-developed facility for almost an hour on Monday. “The field is tough but I am going to enjoy my game here,” he added.
Rawat, ranked 596 in singles, said such events at home give ample opportunities for Indians to improve their world ranking and get entry into ATP Challenger events by accumulating points in ITF tournaments. “There are hardly 4-5 such events in the domestic circuit and if we get more events, it would be helpful to us in improving our world ranking,” Rawat said.
Rawat, who had a goal of becoming an IAS officer ever since he was 18, admitted that he was found wanting in the three back-to-back home Challengers despite the two final outings in the ITF events in Jakarta. “Challenger events are different from the ITF and I realised that my planning wasn't that good. But, I am looking forward to a good start here at Lucknow and taking that into Mysore and Chennai.”
Rawat is among six Indians who have been given direct entry into the singles main draw here. Others include India No. 2 Sasikumar Mukund, Digvijay Pratap Singh, SD Prajwal Dev, Manish Sureshkumar and Niki Poonacha. Tamil Nadu’s Poonacha, who plays his first-round match against compatriot Manish on Tuesday here, was the best-performing Indian in New Delhi last week. The 27-year-old lost to Japan’s Takahashi in the semi-final in straight sets.
“Players like him have the potential to do well here in Lucknow. Indian players need to win matches and points and become sharper when they go for the Challengers. This is the perfect opportunity for them to make use of the home advantage and fare well,” coach Vijay Pathak said.
Singles: 1-Nam Hoang Ly (VIE); 2-Oliver Crawford (USA), 3-Evgeny Donskoy (RUS), 4-Vladyslav Orlov (UKR); 5-Sasikumar Mukund (IND); 6-Arthur Weber (FRA); 7-Eric Vanshelbolm (UKR); 8-Shuichi Sekguchi (JPN).