Somdev wants to put India on ATP Tour map

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> His performance at the Chennai Open was not less than a revolution and now Somdev Devvarman wants Indian flag to flutter continuously on the ATP World Tour

Updated: January 15, 2009 15:28 IST
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New Delhi:

His coruscating performance at the Chennai Open was not less than a revolution for the game in the country and now Somdev Devvarman wants Indian flag to flutter continuously on the ATP World Tour.

With his lean frame and average height, he cut down the strapping big-wigs of the game to size, literally, en route to his maiden ATP final.

The new tennis sensation avers that he has the 'heart' to do more 'damage' on the ATP Tour.

"I'd surely like to be a permanent fixture on the ATP tour and do some damage and make a name. I'd definitely like to put India on the singles map on the tour," he said from Melbourne, where he is playing qualifiers for the Australian Open.

In an extraordinary show in the season opener, Somdev with sheer grit and never-say-die attitude, introduced to former world number one Carlos Moya and 6 feet 10 inches Croat Ivo Karlovic a new brand of Indian tennis.

On being asked, if he feels, had he been a little taller (at present 5'11) he could have been more destructive and challenge the Tour's elite in a better way, he responded with a stunner.

"Well I'm not going to grow any taller (laughs) but I am constantly working on becoming stronger. I don't think you can only be successful if you're over 6ft 4 inches tall.

"You just don't need height, you need a heart, which I have plenty of. You have to be physically strong and be able to take the challenges head on," he said.

The two-time US collegiate champion did not show even an iota of fear on his face when he was dealing with the fire, coming from across the court from the racquets of Moya and Karlovic.

Rather he cornered them to earn his share of glory. When quizzed about his fearless approach, he said, "My hard work gives me the confidence. I know I've worked really hard and that's what gives me the faith in my abilities. For me fear is not a factor."

After playing just 14 events in six months, he is almost touching the top-150 mark. Is this an indicator of a sensational singles career, India had been waiting for long? "I surely do hope so. I know I have my work cut out and I have a long way to go. But I also know I'm on the right path and I just need to keep working hard," he said.

With success comes the weight of expectation from fans and inevitable scrutiny by the frenzied media. But the-23-year-old is unperturbed.

"Well, my job is to focus on my tennis. I am motivated and focussed to be the best player I can be. I know there are expectations and pressure, but I don't focus on things that are not in my control. The best way to handle all that is by working hard at your tennis and getting results."

For his improved game, Somdev attributes a lot to the three-week training stint with Andy Roddick just ahead of the Chennai Open.

"It has worked wonders for me. Training with him was such an incredible experience. He taught me a lot and I also got great insight into what it takes to become a top-10 player in the world, which he has been so successfully over the past so many years. I know how hard I have to work if I have to compete with these guys on a regular basis."

Not only Indian tennis fraternity but also the players who were humbled by him applauded his performance. Moya even went to the extent of saying that soon Somdev will make the top 100 grade.

The Indian says he does not believe in this number game but very rightly acknowledged Moya's praise.

"That's very nice of him to say that. I personally don't pay too much attention to numbers. It will happen when it has to happen. I am just concentrating on my tennis one day at a time. Having said that I'd like to be in that bracket sooner rather than later.

"It's going to be my first full year on the tour. I know it will be a huge learning curve for me and I hope to take as much from it as I can," he said.

Every tennis player, who takes this game seriously and with passion, dreams of performing at the Grand Slams. Somdev is no different and a confidence boosting show at the Chennai Open is keeping the Indian geared up.

"Obviously that's what every tennis player works towards, performing in the Slams. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself as I feel I have to learn a lot still. But I am surely looking forward to my first Grand Slam, The Australian Open and I hope to put up a good show there.

"I go into the tournament with a lot of confidence from Chennai and I hope to make the most of it," he said.

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