For part 1, click here: Indian tennis in 2013
4. SOMDEV DEVVARMAN BACK WITH THE BEST
It would is the last thing any tennis player would want. Yet, injuries never cease to attack them. Somdev’s career, after a late start, finally seemed to mature during the 2011 season. Unfortunately, he developed a shoulder injury and could not play for a major part of the next season. Though he returned for the Olympics, he was all too weak to make any impact. As a consequence, he has spent another entire year to climb back to where he definitely belongs- the top 100.
Having started the season with a win at the Chennai Open, he made steady progress with decent wins at many tour events.He consistently won at least the initial rounds while using his protected ranking to play ATP events. Ranking among his good performances are his matches against Jerzy Janowicz of Poland and Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open and Miami Masters. Though he failed to win either, he definitely showed that he was back to fitness. The former was an intriguing match which kept many Indians transfixed to the television screens during the early hours of the day to watch him battle against the dramatic Pole in 5 tight sets.
As the luxury of using protected ranking ended by the beginning of the clay court season, he started playing at Challenger events as his ranking was inadequate to make the cut-offs at tour events. His rank had risen to 205 by mid april from 664 at the beginning of the year owing to his good results at the events during the interregnum period. Though he played many challenger events, eight in all, throughout the rest of the year, he somehow failed to make it past the semifinals at any of them. After winning initial matches with ease, he would dramatically fail in the end stages.
He was placed in the qualifying draws of the succeeding three slams. He made smooth entries into the main draws of the French and US Opens while he failed in the very first round at Roehampton to eventual qualifier Matt Reid of Australia 16-18 in the third set. It was after the US Open that he finally found his way back to the top 100 (ranked 89 currently)
Post Wimbledon, he created an upset at the Citi Open where he entered as a qualifier and defeated defending Champion Alexander Dolgopolov before falling to John Isner. His match against Isner was very closely watched by many as it was their first meeting since Devvarman’s win at the NCAA finals during college years. He played his final tournament of the year at Charlottesville where he currently resides.
He also made a silent progress in the doubles field with a few creditable wins with different partners including a title at the Sarasota challenger with Ilija Bozoljac.
His next season will be watched with keen interest and he is expected to progress further in terms of rankings and performance. He will also play for India at the Davis Cup and Asian Games in all likelihood. A better season with better results is surely possible given that he has secured a place in the top 100.
3. BOPANNA PEAKS AT NO.3
Rohan Bopanna started the year at no.12 as the third highest ranked Indian after Leander Paes at no.3 and Mahesh Bhupathi at no.4. He decided to part with Bhupathi and pair with American Rajeev Ram. The duo started the year on a bad note losing in the quarterfinals of the Chennai Open. In their successive tournaments, they failed to make an impact and prior to the clay court season, they decided to part ways and the Bopanna Bhupathi pair reemerged.
The first half of the season was chaotic and not very satisfying for any of the Indians including Bopanna.
Wimbledon brought in a change of fortune for this player from Coorg. Seeded fourteenth and playing for the very first time, Rohan Bopanna and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, reached the semifinals, Bopanna’s first at the Championships, notching wins over many higher ranked opponents. This saw him rise to a career high ranking of world no.3 and also become the highest ranked Indian for the first time in his career overtaking the legends Paes and Bhupathi. They revived their partnership at Cincinnati and continued for the rest of the season.
The duo won their first title together at the Tokyo 500 tournament and moved closer to clinching a spot in the ATP finals.
Like all other Indians. the second half of his season has been very fruitful. From reaching the Wimbledon semi final to almost qualifying for the WTFs, the duo have performed really well. It is really sad that they will not be back next season. Bopanna, though, elated many by announcing his reunion with former partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi.