Khade gets a wild card

Published - December 29, 2017 09:24 pm IST - PUNE

No expectations: For Arjun Khade the experience of being a main draw player will be a learning curve.

No expectations: For Arjun Khade the experience of being a main draw player will be a learning curve.

For a good one hour after Arjun Khade finished his practice session on Friday evening ahead of the Tata Open Maharashtra, his eyes were fixed on just one thing — the 6’6” frame of none other than World No. 6 Marin Cilic pummelling the ball.

This is the sort of developmental aspect big-ticket tennis has. Observing a Grand Slam champion from close quarters is a rare opportunity. Ask Ramkumar Ramanathan, India’s second highest ranked singles player, who was seemingly transformed after watching Carlos Moya in Chennai. Khade, a wild card entrant, wants to cash in on such exposure.

“I am really happy to have got the wild card to play at this level,” Khade said. “It was amazing to see how professional and focussed he [Cilic] is about every little thing. It just gives you the motivation to try and be like that. I spoke to him briefly. It was normal conversation where he asked me where I was from, my ranking and so on. He was just very humble. There is a lot to learn.”

Kadhe is ranked 603 in the world but it is in no way a reflection of his tennis credentials. Only recently did he return after having played college tennis in the Unites States for Oklahoma State University for three-and-half years.

“I learnt a lot about tennis there. If you go to a good college and are surrounded by good players as I was, it can help you.

“Steve Johnson, who is doing so well on the tour, was one of the best college players ever. We got to meet him. Also John Isner. You go to their university and they still have photos of them. Like Bryan Brothers who graduated from Stanford. It’s awesome going to those same locker rooms and playing in front of big crowds.”

The 23-year-old also stated that he was happy with his transformation from the college circuit to the ITF.

As evidence he can show his triumph in Vietnam barely a month ago for his first Futures singles title.

But for now, it will just be about savouring the atmosphere in Pune.

“I have no expectations at all. I just want the experience of being a main draw player and learn as much as possible.”

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