The story seemed to be heading to a happy ending and Vijayant Malik could see the light at the end of the tunnel. He only had to beat Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Vijayant,if he overcame the higher seeded player,could have won what would be his first ITF men’s futures title of the year. Only if he could.
As the final match of the ITF men’s futures tournament unfolded in Coimbatore,right from the beginning it was evident that it was not Vijayant’s day. One could clearly see the stiffness in his leg or was it possible leg cramps? While trailing Jeevan 1-5 in the second set,Vijayant had to retire hurt. Knee injury it was,he said.
Had he been fit,it was anybody’s guess who would have ended up winning the third and final leg of the ITF men’s futures tournament. Vijayant had faced Jeevan three months ago,in the ITF futures tournament in Madurai,but ended up on the losing side in the quarterfinals.
However,his performance peaked after that and since the ITF men’s futures in Chandigarh in April earlier this year,Vijayant has atleast reached the semifinals four times our of five ITF futures tournament. He clearly was the in-form player in those tournaments where he beat top seeded players like N Sriram Balaji (he beat him thrice) and Yuki Bhambri.
“Looking back now,I can say my performance was satisfying. I reached quarterfinals on atleast seven occasions and I played three finals. I would have liked to carry the form forward but due to ankle injury my schedule has been disturbed,” Vijayant said while speaking to Sportline.
Ten days have passed since that fateful day when Vijayant picked up the ankle injury. Forced to miss action and watch his dreams to play club matches in Germany go kaput,Vijayant is trying to pick up the pieces and gearing up to hit the court again. “Now that there aren’t big tournaments in India in the coming days,I wanted to play abroad and get some experience of playing in foreign conditions. However,that dream was cut short by the knee injury. The injury is not serious; I am recovering well,” shared the 23-year-old.
In Delhi right now,Vijayant is getting much-needed rest after a rigorous schedule as he travelled across India in search of ITF titles and looking to boost his ATP rankings. The physical atrocities of the sport is such that no matter how much the player tries,he cannot stop wear and tear of the body when he is constantly on the move,playing match after match,in hot and humid conditions.
Though injuries are a part of the game,to be rendered bedridden is possibly the worst feeling for a sportperson when he is at the peak of his game. During the Davis Cup tie against South Korea in February this year,where he was making his debut for the national team,Vijayant had to retire due to severe cramps. The sad end in the ITF futures event in Coimbatore means Vijayant will have to work on his fitness again and look to return to the same form that made him such a tough player to beat on the ITF circuit this year.
“When a player is appearing one tournament after the other,fitness becomes more important. Planning the schedule accordingly is the key. A small injury can disturb the whole schedule,” said Vijayant who has reached the season high of 470 in ATP rankings.
Vijayant,a former CHART trainee of CLTA,could never stop talk about the place where he grew up honing his skills under various coaches and turn into a successful professional player. So when he returned to the CLTA courts after a long hiatus,he was surprised to see the home crowd who had come to support him during the final match. Though Vijayant lost the match to a better player in the form of Saketh Myneni,reaching the final gave a boost to his confidence. “I really picked up after that tournament in Chandigarh. I guess the people and the venue is lucky for me,” said the player. Like his performance at the CLTA courts,Vijayant performance on hard courts has been impressive this year. He took part in five ITF futures tournaments played court and he reached three finals.
“I can’t wait to return to action. Firstly,I will see how my ankle is and then plan my future events. I haven’t decided where to play but I would surely be travelling to some foreign country to play in my next tournament,” signed-off the player.