An unprecedented players’ revolt shook Indian tennis in a controversy-marred beginning of the year but when the dust settled and the 2013 season progressed, Sania Mirza, Somdev Devvarman and Leander Paes brought cheer to the fans by their on-court successes.
In a dramatic move, 11 top players presented a united front against the All India Tennis Association (AITA) to bring about changes in the way the game is being governed and forced the national tennis body agree to some of their demands.
Getting the Davis Cup support staff changed was a big victory for the players but the most surprising part was that the revolt was led by Somdev, who was known just for his dogged persistence on the tennis courts.
Formation of ITPA
The revolt did not stop even after improvement in the Davis Cup playing conditions for the players but culminated in the formation of a players’ association, Indian Tennis Players Association (ITPA).
Somdev’s on-court performance just added to his reputation as he worked his way to top-100 after beginning the year below 600. Having overcome his shoulder injury, Somdev was at his usual fighting best as he recorded impressive wins over several top-100 and top-50 players on the ATP circuit.
His win over world No. 23 Alexandr Dolgopolov at the ATP 500 Washington event and over world No. 39 Benoit Paire in France stood out.
Somdev has worked extremely hard on his fitness and is easily one of the fittest players, who can engage his rivals in testing marathon matches.
While the Indian youngsters were making their presence felt on the ATP circuit, there is one player who continues to set new benchmarks with his awe-inspiring performances. At the age of 40, Leander Paes was still able to add to his Grand Slam collection. The victory at US Open men’s doubles with Radek Stepanek was Paes’ 14th Major title.
However, Bhupathi’s major success was getting the support of world tennis bigwigs for his IPL-style tennis league. His organisational skills and business acumen are beyond doubt but how successful his ambitious IPTL will remain to be seen.
Getting commitments from superstars such as Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams to play in his league is a big step forward in his post-retirement endeavours but it will be a big challenge for the veteran Indian to make it a success.
In women’s tennis, Sania enjoyed her best season as she captured five titles despite having to change partner after partner. She began with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and then at the fag end of the year, settled with Zimbabwean Cara Black, with whom she is now committed to play full 2014 season.
Of her 19 career titles, five came in 2013 which was her first year exclusively in doubles on the WTA tour and was rewarded as she, for the first time, ended the year in top-10 and was the highest ranked player from India (men and women) at number nine at the end of the season.
Another Indian who enjoyed his best season was Rohan Bopanna. He touched a career-best ranking of world No. 3. Bopanna truly came out from the shadows of Paes and Bhupathi to be counted as another formidable Indian player on the circuit.
He won just two titles — at Tokyo with Roger-Vasselin Edouard and at Marseille with Colin Fleming — but made a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon and finals of many tournaments including the Masters.
And, the fact that he has rejoined forces with Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, with whom he had formed a highly successful partnership, will only add to his claims to ascendancy. — PTI
11 top players presented a united front against the All India Tennis Association Bopanna touched a career-best ranking of world No. 3 in doubles
11 top players presented a united front against the All India Tennis Association
Bopanna touched a career-best ranking of world No. 3 in doubles