Focus is on Olympics: Somdev Devvarman

New Delhi: Star Indian Tennis Player Somdev Devvarman, who is a regular name in the ATP circuit, has set his goals for 2012 and hopes to break into the world’s top-50 and qualify for the London Olympics.


“The focus is definitely on the Olympics, I’ll just work at improving my game further, and breaking into the (world’s) top-50 would be nice,” said Somdev who is currently in Chennai to take part in the flagship tennis event of India, the Chennai Open.


The 17th  Chennai Open, India’s only and South Asia’s leading ATP World Tour event, will be held at the SDAT Nungambakkam Tennis Stadium from January 2 to 8, and the rich field includes a host of top International and Indian players including world number 9 Janko Tipsarevic and world number 10 Nicolas Almagro.


World number 84 Devvarman won the hearts of tennis-loving Indians with his spectacular run to the final in the 2009 Chennai Open as a wild card entrant, scoring stunning victories over former world number one Carlos Moya and big-serving Ivo Karlovic, before falling to Marin Cilic at the final hurdle.


It turned out to be Devvarman’s breakthrough season on the Tour as be moved into the  top-100 for the first time, and the following year won the singles gold in the Commonwealth Games and the singles and doubles gold in the Asian Games.


“Well, I certainly hope to do well and go one better than 2009!” Devvarman said. “I love playing in Chennai. The atmosphere is great, the crowd is supportive, it’s just awesome,” said Devvarman, who was presented with the Arjuna Award in September this year.


“(However) it’s not easy,” he said, referring to the pressures of playing at home. “You want to play well; the crowd wants you to do well. It’s a charged- up atmosphere. So there is a lot of pressure. You just have to try and not let it get to you. That’s easier said than done though.”


Devvarman should know: he lost to Tipsarevic in the second round in 2010 and to Belgian David Goffin in the first round in the 2011 edition.


“It’s a very strong field,” he said about the 2012 field. “At this level it’s rare to get easy wins.”


The 26-year-old Devvarman had a mixed 2011 ---- he moved up as high as 63 in the world ranking after beginning the year at 108 and but slumped to 84.


“The sudden rise (was) due to good matches and favourable outcomes (and the) sudden slump due to injury,” he said, referring to his recurring shoulder injury.


“Consistency is the key. When you meet top ranked players, which you often do in Tour events, they can easily expose your weaknesses. You have to stay on top of your game at all times.”


Elaborating further on the 2011 season, he said: “Reaching the finals of the Tour event in Johannesburg is definitely up there. Besides that, I also got to play the likes of (Roger) Federer, Rafa (Nadal) on the big stage and also got some good wins against players like Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and (Janko) Tipsarevic.”


“I think, on a given day, when I’m playing my best tennis I could beat any player. But to stay up there… win a grand slam … you have to play that level consistently day-in and day-out.”


The guitar-strumming, music-loving Devvarman said he was well-prepared for the new season.


“Nothing specific, just improving on every aspect of my game and fitness…will try and stay injury free,” he concluded.