Somdev: Chennai Open is very special for me

"I took a long break after October, took some time off and wanted to get a few things sorted, which I did. I feel really good, body feels good. (I’m) looking forward to the next season," says Somdev Devvarman as he gears up for the Chennai Open.

Somdev Devvarman... “I just want to play good tennis. Give myself a chance to do well in the Slams, hopefully qualify for a few, try to get back in the top 100."   -  K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

Chennai is one of many stops on the busy ATP tour. However, for India it holds significance. The crowd here gets to witness the expertise of some of the players, recognisable from television screens, on the hard courts of Chennai, while some local players through wildcards and doubles play against and alongside them to gain better knowledge of the game.

India’s Somdev Devvarman, a regular participant and a finalist here in 2009, is certain about the tournament’s value. “In my opinion, the more international events you have in the country, it’s better, because players are going to get more and more opportunities, and that’s the most important thing. (In) this kind of tournament, in the past, a few Indian players have qualified, done well and won a couple of rounds. That is useful for their careers. That’s why I think the tournament is very important,” he told Sportstar.

The tournament is also significant for the tennis culture in the city; it was a major stop for Devvarman growing up here. “(It’s a) very special tournament for me. It’s the first ATP event that I ever witnessed growing up as a kid. I grew up in Chennai. I used to come here and never miss a day. It’s very special for me. I think they do a good job. For the city, it’s very important. For tennis lovers, I think, it’s a great blessing,” he said.

Somdev, who had a relatively lackluster 2015 that saw him drop to 177 in the ATP rankings, will play the qualifying rounds of the tournament; he has been given a wildcard for the doubles event which he will contest alongside Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan.

Somdev has tried to revamp his tennis with a new coach. “Preparations have been good. I took a long break after October, mid-October, took some time off and wanted to get a few things sorted, which I did. I feel really good, body feels good. (I’m) looking forward to the next season,” he said.

His endeavour for the next year is to play good tennis. “I just want to play good tennis. Give myself a chance to do well in the Slams, hopefully qualify for a few, try to get back in the top 100, that’s obviously like a set goal, and stay healthy. I think that’s an important thing. I hope I can do all these things.”

The qualifying rounds of the Chennai Open will take place on the January 2 and January 3. The main event will commence on January 4.