2010 has been a breakthrough year for Somdev Devvarman. Gold at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games to go with a career-high singles ranking of 94. He also played a leading role in India beating Brazil 3-2 to enter the Davis Cup World Group. He spoke to The Indian Express about the year so far.
How does it feel to be the hottest player in Indian tennis even as veterans Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are probably entering the twilight of their career?
Leander and Mahesh are legends and to carry forward this legacy is both a challenge and an honour for me. It doesnt really change anything whether I am a flag-bearer or not. My job is to play and win matches and thats what I try to do every time I am on the court.
The pressure of expectation must be immense now that you have come under the spotlight with some commendable performances?
There is a little pressure when I am on court. But I just try and stay focussed on my match. I try to keep it simple and not think too much. That helps me to ease off the pressure. It is wonderful to receive adulation and attention at home.
How important were the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold?
Playing for India had always been a dream and to be able to fulfill those dreams is great. Winning medals for India is even better. Its an absolutely fantastic feeling,which is what makes both the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games gold so special. Lots of expectations were riding on me. I was told that I could win that elusive gold in mens singles tennis at the Asian Games. It was thrilling to achieve my targets.
Any memorable moments from the Asian Games?
Winning the doubles title along with Sanam Singh really pumped me up for the singles final. It was really helpful to have Sanam as partner as we have known each other for a long time and he was really excited to play in the final. His energy and excitement kept me going. The momentum that I got from the doubles win helped me a lot in winning the singles title too.
Which gold is closer to your heart?
At the Commonwealth Games I was playing in front of home fans… I cant pick or chose between the CWG gold and the Asian Games gold. Both these medals are very special.
You have missed out on a few tournaments and subsequently your career ranking has also slipped in the last two months…
It does help to be up there in the ATP rankings. The Asian Games was the last tournament of this season for me and it was really great to end it on that high note. My first tournament next year will be the Chennai Open. Im working on my game and hopefully the results will follow and Ill rise in the rankings.
How do you see your meteoric rise in the tennis world?
I think my rise in the tennis world has been pretty steady,not a very sharp graph. There are a few tournaments that I enjoy playing more than others but reaching the final of the Chennai Open was the defining moment of my career because it was the first time I had reached the final of an ATP event.