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2018 — a breakout year for Sasi Kumar Mukund

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Sasi Kumar Mukund could not have asked for a better start to the new year after he was handed his maiden Davis Cup World Group qualification call-up on Monday as a reserve for the tie against Italy next month.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mukund said, “There were lots of ups and downs this year but I am humbled and it is a dream come true to be part of the Davis Cup.”

The 21-year-old had one of his best years on the tour in 2018 moving from 426 to finish the year at 295 on the ATP rankings. Mukund, who featured regularly on the Futures tour, made a conscious decision to go a step higher and play the Challengers more regularly with a handful of quarterfinal appearances being the highlights.

At the start of the year, the youngster from Chennai made the quarterfinals in two Challenger events that gave him the confidence to scale new heights.

However, with the new rules kicking in, the field was getting stronger with more players fighting for crucial ATP points, which also meant some tough losses in qualifying rounds. At one point in the year, he lost in 12 out of 13 events in qualifying.

“It was a tough period when you don’t qualify and I will be lying if I say I didn’t think of going down a step back to Futures. But thankfully, towards the end of the year, I got some good results.”

Mukund trains in Vienna, Austria, with a small group of tennis players under coach Martin Spoettl, who also travelled with him for the most part of last year, which has helped a lot.

“When you are between the age of 20-25, a coach is an important person to have around you. It is not just when you are losing but even when you are winning and like now when you get called up for Davis Cup, a person who can help you keep the focus on the game is very important.”

While he did not qualify for the Maharashtra Open, the lone ATP world tour event in the country, after losing in the qualifiers, Mukund will now play a Challenger in Vietnam before joining the team in Kolkata. The 21-year-old is hoping to make the most of the experience.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 6:19:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/2018-a-breakout-year-for-sasi-kumar-mukund/article25873902.ece

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