India should focus on singles, says Amritraj

This week marks three decades since India’s last appearance in the final of the Davis Cup in Sweden and former Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj feels it is high time the country looks beyond its obsessive focus on doubles.

Amritraj welcomed the move to go back to a 16-seed draw in Grand Slams from 2019.   -  R. Ravindran

This week marks three decades since India’s last appearance in the final of the Davis Cup in Sweden and former Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj feels it is high time the country looks beyond its obsessive focus on doubles.

Speaking at the launch of Vijay Amritraj Reserve collection of wine, the former India Davis Cup captain said, “If we are going to be in the world group, where you are going to face the top 50 players, you need four singles player. Those four points are going to be important.”

Asked if it meant the team should look beyond Leander Paes, Amritraj said, “Does he play singles? If not, yes. All our guys play good doubles. So it is important to have three singles guys who can win four singles matches, especially since you will be substituted if needed.”

“The dilemma is always whether you take one good doubles team and two singles or take three singles and one doubles guy. This is the danger where we stand today in world tennis since guys don’t play singles and doubles.”

“But we should have two guys who should be able to win singles matches on their own and a third guy should be able to step in if needed.”

Commenting on the state of Indian tennis, Amritraj felt that Indian players tend to mature late into their 20s and the 64-year-old sees some hope with the likes of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Yuki Bhambri showing promise

“I saw Ramkumar and Sriram Balaji play recently. There has been a huge improvement but there are so many areas where they can improve.”

“All our Indian players are going to mature physically later in their late 20s. If you have an attacking game by then, like Ram does, and Yuki does to a certain extent, it makes a huge difference when you are physically stronger. Their best years will come between the ages of 27-32.”

Amritraj, a renowned tennis commentator, also welcomed the move to go back to a 16-seed draw in Grand Slams from 2019.  “It should always have been 16 seeds. It doesn’t protect the seeds and opens up the draw. They will make a difference and that is exactly how it needs to be.”

Speaking on Roger Federer’s remarkable year which saw him win two slams, Amritraj said the Federer who won in Australia looked fresh with a desire of a junior player.

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