Tennis

Devvarman ready for the Davis Cup battle

“Hit the darn ball harder.”

The tone was unmistakably self-motivational, the hair shortened, the pep defining, and the wit intact.

Somdev Devvarman spent Sunday afternoon knocking balls on an outside court at the SDAT Stadium here even as a groggy press contingent — the grogginess directly proportional to the length of the Federer-Djokovic semifinal taken in on television the previous night — waited by the sidelines for five minutes for India's main Davis Cup singles hope.

“Is that hard enough for you,” Devvarman shot, as he sent a double-handed backhand whizzing past the outstretched arm of hitting partner and State player, V.M. Ranjeet, who had parked himself at the net to feed volleys to the Davis Cupper.

Back in the city of his tennis initiation, the World No. 98 took a breather, allowing scribes to assemble themselves in a tight circle around him.

“This has been a good year for me. I broke into the top 100 and won a match on grass, which surprised many,” he began.

Good season

The season was undoubtedly a good one for Devvarman. He won against gritty competitors such as Marco Chiudinelli and Tim Smyzcek, led Robby Ginepri by a set (Cincinatti), and forced Gael Monfils (Toronto) and Janko Tipsarevic (Los Angeles) to tie-breaks before losing steam.

“It's not like I am messing up all the time,” he said in explanation of his tie-break losing spree, “they (his opponents) are playing well too. And since I'm playing more guys in the top 100 matches have become much more competitive,”

Here, at the seat of his most successful ATP campaign, the 25-year-old, along with U.S. Open doubles finalist Rohan Bopanna, will feature as India's singles cards against Brazil, a team packed with Thomaz Bellucci (World No.28) and Ricardo Mello (World No. 81). Bellucci is streets ahead in rankings and results and although the two — Bellucci and Devvarman — haven't yet faced each other, the counterparts share a common point of reference, one that shows them both in poor light.

The U.S. Open campaigns of either were hacked by big-serving South African Kevin Anderson. While Devvarman was smacked out in straight sets in the first round, Bellucci made a fist of his second-round shootout, losing in a fifth-set tie-break.

Concerns

Asked about ‘concerns' over both Brazil's singles players being southpaws, Devvarman said,

“Why should we be troubled just because the ball's coming to the other side of the court. The tie is going to be a tough one, but Bops (Bopanna) is a ‘confidence' player, and his confidence must be sky-high after making the U.S. Open final.”

Devvarman also felt the presence of the experienced Leander Paes-Mahesh Bhupathi pair gave the home side a huge advantage.

“They're in the top 10 (doubles) and still enter tournaments with the aim of winning them. We know our doubles team can handle anything…that's the knowledge Bopanna and I go into the match with. I only wish it were hotter here,” he said.

Devvarman is 4-5 in Davis Cup matches. Bopanna is expected in Chennai on Sunday night while Paes and Bhupathi will be flying in on Tuesday.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 5:55:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/Devvarman-ready-for-the-Davis-Cup-battle/article15912580.ece

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