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'We were confident of playing like Lee-Hesh'

Last updated on: January 7, 2011 16:50 IST

'We need to improve our game and be quick like Byran brothers'

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Bikash Mohapatra in Chennai

They are the Asian counterparts of the Bryan brothers.

For the Ratiwatana twins, Sonchat and Sanchai, though the comparisons end right there.

The massive gulf in the rankings (and class) means while the American twins (Bob and Mike) dominate the global stage, the Thai players are struggling it out in the challenger circuit, trying their darndest best to get back to the bigger stage.

Mention the Bryans and the respect, which the Thai duo have for their illustrious counterparts is all the more palpable.

"They are the best team, no.1 in the world," says Sanchai, adding, "For us, the best thing will be when we get to play against them more often." However, the duo are aware of their drawbacks and the areas they need to work on before that match-up happens.

"They are big and fast and so we first need to improve our game and movement (speed), and be quick like them," explains Sanchai, before throwing in a hint of caution.

"For their power is something, I am sure we can never match because they are physically bigger," he admits, adding, "But we scould match them in speed at least."


Image: Sanchai Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana

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'We have had a pretty tough time on the tour'

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Life has been anything but rosy for the Ratiawtana twins ever since they became the surprise winners of the men's doubles title at the Chennai Open in 2008. In the last years, there has been no further addition to that success -- the duo lost their quarter-final this year to the Croatian pair of Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig.

The duo, however, do not mince words in admitting their failure to deliver the results.

"We have had a pretty tough time on the tour in the last two years or so, ever since we won the title here," explains Sonchat, adding, "We have been playing on the challenger circuit on a regular basis and thankfully have got the opportunity to start the year in this tournament.

"And I feel it is pretty much same as 2008," he added.


Image: Sanchai Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana

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'We have learnt a lot on the tour'

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Ask them the reason for their dramatic downfall as a team -- something that has seen them fall from a career-high ranking of 39 (in 2008) to the eighties at present, and the response is immediate.

"Earlier we used to fight hard and give our best effort in every match, explains Sanchai, adding, "But in the last two years we have failed to do that.

"However, we have learnt a lot on the tour. And that I think is the most important thing."  The massive drop in the rankings has also meant lesser number of ATP events and consequently less ranking points.

"We are now ranked in the 80s," says Sonchat, before elaborating on their expectation as a team.

" We would first like our rankings to get back into the top 50 and then set ourselves another target," continues," adding, "Now our ranking is not good enough to get entry into all the ATP tournaments.

But if we continue doing well in challengers and whatever tournament we get to enter, we can slowly get there," he added.


Image: Sanchai Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana

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'Playing against Lee-Hesh was a great experience'

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Another famous doubles combination, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, have decided to join forces again for the Australian Open. Ask the Ratiwatana twins their reaction to the comeback and you see the excitement writ large on their faces.

"I think it's a very big thing for Asian tennis because they have already been on top," says Sanchai, before going on to recollect his memories of playing the Indian Express.

"We played them at the Asian Games (2006) and it was a great experience," he says, adding, "We were at one point confident that we can play like them.

"However, we later understood we needed to play regularly at the level in which they were playing to be like them," he added.

Sonchat cuts in to say that this is a good phase for Asian tennis at large.

"Qureshi and Bopanna have also done well last year," he explains, adding, "We too hope to do well so that there are at least three top Asian teams on the circuit."


Image: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi

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