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Rediff.com  » Sports » The matches could have gone either way: Somdev

The matches could have gone either way: Somdev

Last updated on: September 18, 2010 17:38 IST

Somdev established himself as the spearhead of the Indian team

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Bikash Mohapatra

Last September Somdev Devvarman emerged as India's new Davis Cup hero.

Winning both his singles matches at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, Somdev ensured India a comprehensive 4-1 win over South Africa, and with it a place in the elite world group after a 12 year absence.

His performance was hailed and he established himself as the spearhead of the Indian team.

A year later, Somdev found himself in a similar situation, thanks largely to the fact that India failed to get past Russia in the opening round of the competition in March - a win would have kept them in the World Group.

However, a loss set the stage for yet another World Group play-off, albeit this time on home soil.

Somdev's form kept the Indian spirits high. The 25-year-old did well in the French Open qualifiers, made it to the main draw at the US Open and broke into the top 100 in the rankings.

Meanwhile, the All India Tennis Association (AITA), keeping in mind Somdev's preference for the hard courts, chose Chennai - the SDAT Tennis stadium at Nungambakkam, where he made the singles final of the 2009 Chennai Open - as the venue for the tie.


Image: Somdev Devvarman

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'We have our backs to the wall now'

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The opposition (Brazil) was very much beatable and Somdev also had a luxury - it was India's best squad in many years.

It seemed a perfect script till the shooting commenced. The first schedule went haywire, so to speak.

Contrary to all expectations and predictions, India found themselves 0-2 down after Day One. If Rohan Bopanna going down to Brazilian no 1 Thomaz Bellucci was not much of a surprise, Somdev suffering a defeat to Ricardo Mello was.

The 25-year-old was expected to help India draw level. Instead, his defeat only added to the home team's woes.

It was Somdev's sixth defeat in 10 singles matches in the competition and he was understandably short of words to explain his sordid effort.

"We could have been up 2-0 but we lost both the matches. We have our backs to the wall now," he lamented, before making a desperate attempt to find an explanation (excuse) - as it happens in the case of most Indian teams after a defeat.

"Both the matches went into the fifth set, and anyone who has played sport will understand that at such a stage it is always a 50-50 case," he argued, adding, "The matches could have gone either way."


Image: Somdev Devvarman

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'I am constantly trying to improve my game'

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Somdev was also reluctant to admit that he is yet to achieve the desired results.

"It is disappointing for me if I lose and when the media starts judging me on the basis of two or three performances," he explained, before adding, "I feel after Wimbledon, I have done quite well on the circuit."

The 25-year-old also went into the defensive when asked why he didn't frequent the net often, as it seemed to work every time he did so.

"I am not Leander (Paes)," retorted Somdev, adding, "I don't come into the net for everything."

However, there was a sudden change in his tone thereafter.

"I do realize it is an important aspect of the game and is working for me. So, I will continue working on that part of the game," he said.

"In any case, I am constantly trying to make improvements in my game. That's about all that I can do as results are not in my hands," he concluded.

Here's hoping he'll improve his performance in the reverse singles and enhance his reputation as India's spearhead.


Image: Somdev Devvarman

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