Purav admits doubles tie against Canada was winnable

Purav conceded that he and Bopanna were the favourite team, owing to the better ranking, form and preparation, despite playing away from home.

Purav Raja (left) with his trainer Jake Nalepa.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Purav Raja is the crucial connection in the world of Indian tennis. For a man who played the Davis Cup with Rohan Bopanna, under the captaincy of Mahesh Bhupathi, and plays the professional circuit with Leander Paes, Purav keeps things simple. That is his strength, to break down complex personal equations to simple factors.

Of course, that crucial doubles rubber that India lost to the Canadians in the Davis Cup World Group play-off in Edmonton is still fresh in memory.

Back home in Mumbai from China, after Leander Paes had retired with a back spasm in the last tournament in Shenzhen, Purav was at ease in looking back at the turn of events, and looking ahead with optimistic energy.

‘’We could have won that match. Maybe, we could have tried a different pattern instead of ‘’I-formation’’ on my serve. But, we were competing against two Grand Slam champions. Perhaps, we need to compete more together to win such matches’’, opined Purav as he talked to Sportstarlive on Sunday, after a fitness session with his trainer Jake Nalepa.

Purav conceded that he and Bopanna were the favourite team, owing to the better ranking, form and preparation, despite playing away from home. ‘’We were well prepared. It could have been better if we had played some matches together’’, observed Purav.

When the general feeling has been that Leander could have been the better option, but for the complicated relationship between the players and the captain, Purav felt that it was the ideal choice, once Saketh Myneni and Sriram Balaji were ruled out with injuries. ‘’Among all the doubles players, I play the left court. I was ranked in the top-50. So, it was a natural choice’’, said Purav, making it clear that it was not a surprise for him when the captain asked him in the given circumstances.

Purav was equal in his praise of Leander Paes and Divij Sharan, for different reasons. The successful partnership of Purav and Divij had to be broken in the healthy approach towards improvement and better results. ‘’It is a great honour and tremendous experience to play with Leander. He can produce the right shot at the right time. Amazing how he does it, again and again. He has belief. That is his greatness. And he gets the best out of his partners. I have had great success with Divij, a very good player who works extremely hard. At times, we need to break the mould to get better’’, said Purav, who had played against Korea with Leander in his only previous Davis Cup rubber in 2013.

The leading players had staged a boycott then. ‘’I try and get along with everyone. I say things openly and I have nothing to hide’’, said Purav who is pretty smart in lending clarity to his thought, and a honest approach that keeps in mind the well being of everyone.

Looking at top-30 and regular competition in the Grand Slams as the immediate target, Purav said that there was no reason why he could not be a top-20 player, if he kept working on his game and fitness.

The temporary arrangement to get into the US Open with Leander is turning to be a good exercise for Purav, who hopes to get back into the circuit after about a week with Leander, and build the partnership even at the Challenger level. ‘’I hope Divij keeps getting the good results. Am sure we both are going to get better. There is never any problem if we keep the heart and ego at the right place’’, said Purav.

Recalling the third round loss at the French Open with Divij, against the eventual champions Micheal Venus of New Zealand and Ryan Harrison of the US in Paris this season, after being ahead for two sets, Purav said that the rewards would definitely come if we perspired long and hard, with conviction.