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Focus is singles, but doubles is natural for me: Vardhan

Last updated on: October 25, 2012 10:30 IST

Focus is singles, but doubles is natural for me: Vardhan


Bikash Mohapatra

Opportunity knocked on the door for Vishnu Vardhan, and he made the best of it. The 25-year-old Olympian discusses it with Bikash Mohapatra.

It's been a long season for Vishnu Vardhan, and the fatigue is writ large on his game and overall body language.

How else does one explain his struggle to put out an unheralded opponent (Ashwin Vijayragavan) in the opening round of an ITF event, in which he happens to be the top seed?

The 25-year-old, by his own admission, is exhausted and his knees are a cause for concern.

"It is not just only the knee but the whole physical condition," he explains, adding, "I have been playing a lot of matches.

"I am wrapping up the year with this tournament and another one."

The fatigue factor apart, he is not complaining. For, besides being exhausting, the year has also been eventful for the player from Secunderabad.

Image: Vishnu Vardhan
Photographs: Jamie Squire/Getty Images


'The controversy didn't bother me'

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Mahesh Bhupathi's refusal to partner Leander Paes at the London Olympics meant the AITA had to look for alternatives, and Vardhan was the beneficiary.

He was yet to recover from the surprise when opportunity knocked at his door a second time. The withdrawal of German Philipp Kohlschreiber handed Vardhan an entry into the main draw for the men's singles.

Though he failed to capitalize on the latter, falling to get past Blaz Kavcic of Slovakia in the opening round, Vardhan did impress as the doubles partner of Paes, the duo beating the Dutch combine of Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer in the opening round before going down fighting against the French pair of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra, the eventual silver medalist.

"I thought I played really well, and out of my comfort zone at that," says Vardhan, describing his performance in London.

"Every one was very impressed with my effort," he adds.

Bhupathi openly admitted the controversies before the Games affected the players a lot during the competition. Vardhan, though, begs to differ.

"The controversy didn't bother me," he says, "I never really gave it a thought and Leander (Paes) also made me feel really comfortable."

Image: Leander Paes
Photographs: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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'It's been the best year for me'

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If London was an experience to cherish, then there was more in store. The AITA's decision to ban Bhupathi (and Rohan Bopanna) from Davis Cup duty, coupled with Leander Paes and Somdev Devvarman pulling out of India's Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group I play-off against New Zealand, ensured the inclusion of the 25-year-old.

Opportunity had knocked Vardhan's door a third time, and on this occasion he grabbed it with both hands, winning the reverse singles and also the doubles (with Divij Sharan) to play his part in India's 5-0 decimation of New Zealand in Chandigarh.

"It's been a good year, in fact the best year for me, playing in the Olympics and winning two crucial matches for India in Davis Cup," he says.

"I also reached a career-high singles ranking (262)," he adds.

There is a tendency among Indian players to start out in singles and proceed to make a career in doubles. Asked about his preference, Vardhan was categorical.

"The focus is always on singles, but it is just that doubles is more natural for me," he explains, before elaborating on his point.

"I am winning more matches and also want to maintain my ranking in doubles as well."

With examples like Paes, Bhupathi and Sania Mirza -- players who chose doubles over singles -- ahead of him, will he be tempted to follow suit?

"I have not even thought about it," he says. "I have ventured out and played doubles but right now singles is definitely the priority.

"Maybe, few years down the line I would reassess my game and then chart out a plan accordingly."

Image: Leander Paes with Vishnu Vardhan
Photographs: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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