Self-belief key for Indians while approaching Grand Slams, says Vijay Amritraj

Since Somdev Devvarman's first-round win in the US Open in 2013, Indians have had 16 first-round losses in the Grand Slam events, the latest being Prajnesh.

India tennis legend Vijay Amritraj feels that players should have the self-belief while playing in Grand Slams.   -  R. Ragu

India tennis legend Vijay Amritraj said self-belief is essential for Indian singles players to not get affected by the enormity of the situation when playing in the main draw of Grand Slam events.

Since Somdev Devvarman's first-round win in the US Open in 2013, Indians have had 16 first-round losses in the Grand Slam events, including Prajnesh Gunneswaran's first-round exit in the ongoing Australian Open.

"The bottom line is you have to have enough confidence in the way you're playing - do you feel you are ready for it, do you feel like you should be in the third and fourth round, do you feel you are able to compete at the highest level... At the end of the day, that self-belief is important,” Vijay said after the T.S. Santhanam Memorial National seniors tennis championship finals here on Friday.

Talking about the Chennai Open challenger not being held because of the Bengaluru Open taking its slot, Vijay, who's the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA) President, said, "See, the problem is, there are three things that come into play.

"Firstly, we are hampered by the weather calendar. So, we can only do it in the first couple of months of the year, or the last two months. It's difficult to do it in between since it's too hot. Secondly, you are given certain weeks to do the tour.

So, unless you have two-three tournaments back-to-back, it's hard for the players to come all the way to India to do those events. Thirdly, probably the most important part, is sponsorship. It's not cheap to run these tournaments, and the bottom line is, what does the sponsor get out of it," he said.

"So, we have to accommodate all these issues, before we can actually apply for a tournament and then get on the calendar. So, hopefully we'll be able to get something going in the next 12-18 months. For any tour event, you need a sanction.

And the minimum time for a sanction is a year. You can't decide in September you're going to do it in March, which means you need sponsorship committed at least a year ahead. So, unless you do that, you can't apply for the sanction, right? So, I can chase down sanctions, but we need strong support from the sponsorship to be able to do that," he added.

On India's Davis Cup World Group qualifier clash versus Croatia in March, the 66-year-old said: "I've said it a million times that unless you have players in the top-30 or top-40, you're not going to make the World Group. The four singles (matches) is where we need to compete. And unless we have top-30 or top-40 World-ranked players, you're not going to be able to beat the guys in the top-20. I'm not saying it's not possible. But it's hard.

"And the interesting part is, the format now definitely makes it better for us. Because, over five sets, you're not going to beat them. But over three sets, you might. You win a set and all of a sudden, you're in the driver's seat."

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