Myneni: Fitness was key to my turnaround

The past year has been a productive one for Saketh Myneni that has seen him leapfrog Somdev Devvarman as the second highest ranked singles player in the country.

Saketh Myneni during a practice session at the SDAT Stadium in Nungambakkam, Chennai.   -  R Ragu

The past year has been a productive one for Saketh Myneni that has seen him leapfrog Somdev Devvarman as the second highest ranked singles player in the country.

The 28-year-old, ranked 170 in the world, was training hard in the city preparing for the qualifying for the Aircel Chennai open. Speaking about 2015, Myneni said, “I had one of the best years in singles in challenger level. I played my first two grand slam qualifying. In the beginning of the year I made the quarters and semis in couple of challenger events which gave me good confidence for the rest of the year.”

Myneni said that he has focused hard on the fitness side of his game and said that it was a key for the turnaround as it enabled him to play lot more tournaments than ever before. “For the first time, I played nearly 18-20 tournaments. Before, I used to play 10-12 and that too not at full fitness in all those tournaments.”

Elaborating on the specific areas he worked on, Myneni added, “I worked on quickness, strength endurance and legs. Tennis is such a physical sport now. You have to make sure your legs are lasting and the balance is there continuously while at the same time making sure intensity does not slide over here and there.”

The Hyderabad player who has in the past been seen as a doubles player says it is a tag that doesn’t entirely reflect the true picture. “While I enjoy playing doubles, people think I am a better doubles player partly because I got few wildcards in the last few years and played a lot. But what they don’t see is it was my singles play that got me those chances.”

With his debut in grand slam qualifying in 2015, Myneni says the target for 2016 is to build on it and be regular in the main draw of grand slams or make the cut off for qualifying and is hoping to take a leaf out of compatriot Yuki Bhambri’s progress that saw the latter make the top 100.

“He has had a tremendous year last year and I was there in Australia when he made the main draw. It gives me hope that maybe I can do too, especially seeing him from close quarters.”