It was a tough and disappointing wait for Divij Sharan at the Shanghai Masters in China. He missed the cut for the ATP-1000 tournament "by a couple of points", but had a lot to be happy about, as he emerged the "best ranked Asian" of the world in doubles with a rank of 42. He was also close to his career-best ranking of 39.
Obviously, Divij had a lot to be delighted about a productive season in which he won the ATP events in Pune and St. Petersburg apart from the big Challenger in Jinan.
"It is a special feeling to reach this milestone. It is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life," said Divij, even as he noted that Rohan Bopanna would swap positions next week, as he had won a round this week in Shanghai.
Packing his bags in Shanghai, after training for the next Tour event in Stockholm, where he would join hands with Bopanna with whom he had won the Asian Games gold last year and the Pune ATP this year, Divij spared time to take stock of the situation in a chat with Sportstar.
"I have been the highest ranked Indian doubles player a few times now. The first time was around this time last year. It is the first time I have become the highest ranked Asian," said Divij, who replaced the Japanese Ben Mclachlan as the No.1 in Asia.
Interestingly, last week in Tokyo, where Ben Mclachlan was the defending champion, Divij in partnership with Artem Sitak had beaten the Japanese and his partner Luke Bambridge of Britain 6-2, 6-3 in the first round, to change the position on the ranking list.
The Japanese had reached a career best rank of 19, as he made the semifinals of the Australian Open last year.
"The next goal is to win a major tournament so that I can move up in the rankings and confirm my entry into all the big events through the year. This year, I have missed out on a lot of ATP 1000 events. So, would like to give myself a chance to play most of those next year," he said.
Quite grateful to the Union Sports Ministry’s TOPS scheme for the funding and his employer Indian Oil for backing him for the last 11 years, Divij said that he could have a coach and a trainer for a string of events, which helped him get better.
"After losing early in Winston Salem and the US Open, I have got some good results. I am looking forward to the last few tournaments to finish the year strong," Divij said.
As the season is coming to a close, Divij, who has hardly been in India for about five days in the last five months, has an Indian wedding with British tennis player Samantha Murray scheduled for November 23, at home in Delhi.
"We don’t get to spend much time together. We try to see each other at a few tournaments or if we have a break for a few days between tournaments. Samantha has played through most of this year, and is working her way up the rankings, after struggling with injury for the last few years," said Divij, who married the Briton in July.
"It is great to have her as my partner as we understand each other’s lifestyle. We are each other’s biggest fans and are always there to support each other," said Divij, who had met Samantha for the first time at a tournament in Japan in 2012.
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