Divij Sharan looks back on a season of sparse success

Divij says it hasn't been easy managing everything on his own on the ATP Tour for four months, and competing with eight partners in 10 tournaments.

Divij Sharan (left) with Sriram Balaji after the pair reached the Challenger in Prostejov, Czech Republic. Divij says he enjoyed playing with Balaji this season. - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Divij Sharan was one of the early birds to venture out to gather prey, post lockdown. By competing in tournaments in United Kingdom, and later in a Challenger in Prague in August, he was well prepared to salvage whatever was left in the tennis season.

However, the best preparations did not bring matching results, as Divij struggled to win matches on the Tour. Reaching the final of the Challenger in Prostejov with Sriram Balaji was his best fare in four months, even though he did manage to win the odd ones in the ATP Tour.

'Tough time'

Back home in the capital after spending the lockdown with his wife Samantha in Manchester, the 34 year-old Divij put things in perspective, in his inimitable calm manner.

“It has been a tough time for me post the lockdown. It is great to be competing but I have not had much success in my tournaments,” admitted Divij, who had won the Asian Games gold with Rohan Bopanna, and had been conferred the Arjuna award this year.

“I was super excited to hear about the Arjuna award for me. I was away in the U.S. when the award was given. I will get in touch with the authorities to collect the award,” said Divij.

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Ranked 63 in doubles, as against his best of 36, Divij revealed that it had not been easy, managing everything on his own on the Tour for four months, without a coach or trainer, and competing with eight partners in 10 tournaments.

“I lost all my matches against seeded teams in all the ATP Tour events and Grand Slams. So, I didn’t have any luck with the draws also,” reasoned Divij.

'Good practice sessions'

Artem Sitak of New Zealand has been the most successful partner for Divij in recent times, but the duo could not compete together as the Kiwi’s ranking had dropped considerably. “We would have struggled to make the cut for some of the tournaments,” said Divij about Sitak.

“I really enjoyed playing with Bala. We had some good practice sessions that week. I felt very comfortable with him on court,” said Divij, about making the final of the big Challenger with Sriram Balaji.

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Divij was happy for wife Samantha as she won the doubles title in a USD 80,000 event in France, and managed to compete in Roland Garros. “She didn’t get to play many tournaments. With [qualifiers] in Roland Garros, she has played all four Grand Slams. She is training for next season now. With all the quarantine, travel restrictions and lockdowns, she couldn’t travel to India at the moment. She came for my tournament in Cologne, and I went to see her for a week before returning home,” said Divij.

For the moment, Divij plans to rest and get ready for the season ahead.

“I will take a short break, and start training again. I have plans and ideas for what I need to work on and I am motivated to start stronger in January. I am also excited about the Olympic year. I am not defending much. So, a good run in some of my tournaments should help me move up in rankings and secure a spot in the Olympics with Rohan Bopanna. I am sure we will get to play in some tournaments together. For now, I need to focus on myself,” he said.

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