Tennis

‘It’s been a very positive year’ , says Divij Sharan

Going places: A career-best ranking is a motivation to work harder, feels Divij Sharan.

Going places: A career-best ranking is a motivation to work harder, feels Divij Sharan.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Divij has risen to 38 in the ATP doubles ranking

Indian doubles is in transition. Mahesh Bhupathi is no longer in the fray; Leander Paes is in the twilight of his career and Rohan Bopanna is closer to the finish than the start.

Quietly, Divij Sharan has carved out a place for himself. In the latest ATP doubles rankings released on Monday, he had risen to 38, one place above Bopanna to become the highest-ranked Indian.

“It feels pretty amazing,” Divij told The Hindu. “It’s not easy coming from India where we have had legends like Mahesh and Leander who have been World No.1 and Rohan, who has been as high as No.3. So it’s a great feeling.”

Except for one ATP Challenger trophy in January, Divij has no titles to show in 2018. But a string of good results, which included a Wimbledon quarterfinal appearance in the company of New Zealand’s Artem Sitak, has ensured that after having broken into the top 50 in November 2017 he hasn’t dropped out. Following Wimbledon he even got to his career-best ranking of 36.

“It has been different as I have played the bigger tournaments — a lot of ATP 250s, a few 500s and one 1000 and all the slams. The best players play these. I would have liked to win a couple of 250s at least but it’s not easy.”

“Overall it has been a very positive year. I have again reached my career-best ranking. Wimbledon quarters was my best result at a Major and then there was the Asian Games gold. The effort I put in is paying off and that motivates me to work harder.”

The partnership with Sitak has been central to this. After having played with 11 different partners in the first six months of the year, the settled combination with the Kiwi has given him a lot of peace, he said.

“That Wimbledon quarterfinal loss [to Jack Sock & Mike Bryan in four close sets] was one of my best matches. It was one of the major factors for us to continue together. So there is stability now. The mind is at peace since you are not thinking about fixing up partners every week.”

What the uptick in rankings also means is that Divij can look forward to a full off season, instead of playing deep into the year in search of more points. He is the defending champion at the upcoming $150,000 Bengaluru Open Challenger, but isn’t inclined towards participating, since a rise or a drop in rankings will be marginal.

“I have to see whether those 100 points really matter in the long run. So at this moment I am not looking to play. I want to get a bigger off season that would help me going into the next year.”

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 5:53:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/its-been-a-very-positive-year-says-divij-sharan/article25363488.ece

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