A fitter Suraj Prabodh looks to get going at Bengaluru Open

It was not long ago that Suraj was one of the country's top-ranking juniors. But like many, he struggled to make the transition into the senior circuit...

Suraj Prabodh and Vishnu Vardhan at the draw ceremony of Bengaluru Challenger on Saturday.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

In the Indian tennis circles, Suraj Prabodh's isn't a name which immediately rings a bell. The 22-year-old from Mysuru is currently ranked 1219 in the world and isn't a regular at the business end of prominent tournaments. However, after having secured a wildcard entry for the Bengaluru Open $100,000 Challenger tournament, he would hope to change precisely this.

“It's a privilege to just play in such tournaments,” Suraj said on Saturday. “This will help me get the right exposure by being with quality players, see how they train and play. The competition is obviously very high. But I am not going to get demoralised.”

It was not long ago that Suraj was one of the country's top-ranking juniors. But like many, he struggled to make the transition into the senior circuit. The constant travelling, fitness problems and a still-developing game all contributed.

However, in the months leading up to the Bengaluru Challenger he has shown signs of progress. He joined the Harvest Tennis Academy in Jassowal, Punjab where he now trains under the Serbian coach Milos Pavlovic. Early last month, he finished runner-up at the Fenesta Tennis Nationals.

“The main improvement was fitness,” Suraj said. “While training at the Mysore Tennis Club, I was provided all the facilities. But fitness was an issue.  Now there is considerable progress. I have a single-handed backhand but I am feeling better [in generating more power] when I reach the ball. Most players try and attack a single-handed backhand. But I am more confident now and able to manage.”

At the draw ceremony here on Saturday, it emerged that he would play fourth seed Elias Ymer in the first round. The Swede is ranked more than 1000 places above him and in 2015 had qualified for the main draw of all Majors.

“There is nothing much to say,” he said with a laugh. “His ranking says everything. I haven't watched him play. So i'll discuss with my coach, may be watch his practise sessions and have a strategy. I'll try to do my best.”