Most sports stars are happy to be home as virtually the whole world is on a ‘lockdown’, tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
Divij Sharan, who had won the Asian Games gold with Rohan Bopanna, is in Manchester, and happy to be so in the leafy environment. He is not just close to the natural environment, but also with the person close to his heart, wife Samantha Murray.
After the Davis Cup tie against Croatia in Zagreb, when the 32-year-old Divij was the only player in the Indian team who did not get to play, as Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes partnered to win the doubles, the only rubber for India, Divij did return home to Delhi for a few days. “After Indian Wells was cancelled, I had discussed with Rohan to play the clay court events in Marakkech, Budapest and Estoril in April. After three days in Delhi, I decided to reach U.K. for three weeks of training,” said Divij.
All plans have gone for a toss, as the ATP circuit is closed till the first week of June.
“After the wedding in England and Delhi last year, I did spend time with Sam during Christmas. Was with her briefly at the Australian Open, but had not met her thereafter. The current situation has given more time for us to be together. Unlike London, Manchester is better, as we can get out for a run or exercise, once a day. If you keep distance with each other, it is fine. There is a home lawn in the backyard. The LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) has also sent some gym equipment for Sam,” said Divij, explaining the favourable turn of events in the unpleasant situation.
Divij was also happy that wife Samantha had done well to win the singles and doubles titles in the USD 25,000 ITF women’s event in Potchefstroom in South Africa. “After so many matches in singles and doubles, she lost first round the following week in singles, and the doubles quarterfinals. Next day, the tournament was cancelled by the ITF. She returned home in good time,” recalled Divij.
The last time Samantha won a singles title, it was in Chiswick, when she beat Ankita Raina in three sets in the quarterfinals, in August last year. With the good run in South Africa, Samantha had also become eligible to play the qualifying event of the French Open. “Her singles and doubles rank had gone up to 180. French Open was one Grand Slam she had not competed [in], so it was good for her,” said Divij.
In constant touch
Be it Delhi or Manchester, the scenario is almost same. You go out mainly to buy medicine or food. “I’m in constant touch with my parents in Delhi. The lockdown is required. Worldwide, every citizen has the responsibility to stay at home. Our action affects the family, community, country and the world on the whole. Different countries have different policies. Here, if you are feeling unwell, you isolate yourself at home, and get in touch with the medical experts when required. If you have the virus, there is no treatment,” remarked Divij.
Despite all the planning, Divij had to miss the Davis Cup tie against Pakistan. So, he was happy to be part of the ‘mix’ with the team even though he did not get to play against Croatia. “It was a fun atmosphere. I enjoyed being with the team. It was a good experience for the young team, and it is getting better,” said Divij.
Recovery time for earth
In the uncertain situation, Divij felt that it would take some time to get into a training routine. “It is quite tricky. We are used to so many tournaments. We always have something to play and keep ourselves motivated. At the moment, the key is not to get affected. It is hard for everyone. But on the positive side, we get time with family, which is unusual. The earth is also healing. I was talking to my dad, and noticed how the pollution index had dramatically come down over the recent weeks in Delhi. It is recovery time for earth,” said Divij.
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He said that the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics was inevitable. “The priority of the world is different. All the countries are affected. In the given situation, there was no time for athletes to prepare. Now, everyone gets a chance to recover, and look forward to the Olympics. You want to play when everyone is ready,” said Divij.
The world obviously needs time to survive, revive and celebrate life, and sports.
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