He refuses to mourn poor results of the year going by, instead Somdev Devvarman has carefully planned a way “to get back his identity on the tennis courts” by hiring a new coach, cutting down on junk food and putting more hours on honing his serve. Disappointment was writ large when he came out of the Centre Court following a defeat against compatriot N Vijay Sunder Prashanth in the second round of the ATP Challenger here.
And why not, given that he spends at least five hours on training everyday when he is not playing and close to three hours during tournaments. Yet 2015 is the second successive year, which he would like to forget after slipping from 136 to 181 in the world rankings. In 19 ATP Challenger level tournaments, he fell in the first round itself 10 times, on five occasions, he lost the second round and won two titles (Delhi and Winnetka) apart from making two quarterfinals.
He looks fitter than ever and leaner too. Ask him about it and without any qualms he reminds you about his age. “Fitness is one of my strengths and I believe in working on my strengths. I am getting older. I have hit 30 this year. I have definitely cut down on junk food and some of the tastiest Indian foods (laughs). I am little bit conscious about my diet,” Somdev told PTI.
When countered that he was seen eating noodles after his first round match, Somdev said, “One or two times in a while. I am not tempted to eat much. I generally eat simple food. But I don’t eat butter chicken. I am a vegetarian. Generally I have improved a lot.”
“I am vegetarian so lack of protein is a problem. So just being very diligent on eating at right times, having my protein shakes at the right time and eat vegetarian food that has protein like beans and soya. I have recently found out that I have a few allergies that I need to deal with. That was hurting me whole year and I did not know about that. It’s just getting healthy again.”
After training with Scott McCain for many years, Somdev has now hired a new coach, his close friend from Greece Theodoros Angelinos. It's been a month that they have joined forces to get him back to top 100.
Somdev and Ted, as he is called, have played together in College days in the US."I am working hard with my coach. We are doing everything we can. He has known me for many many years. The work we are doing will take a little but of time. But we both are optimistic and both believe in my game. It's important to be patient and don't expect miracles overnight.
"Most important thing is to find ways to start winning again. This year, I have been doing very inconsistently, that feeling has not come back. He is working hard on my serve and finding my identity, be in touch with my identity on the court. Working on hitting a bigger ball, better ball, more depth."
During the Davis Cup tie in Delhi, improvement in his service was quite apparent. In his own words, in that match against Czech Republic's Jiri Vesley, it was his best serving day ever. Here also his service had sting. Somdev revealed that he is giving more attention to his serve each and every session of training.
"I have figured out my motion nicely. My motion is pretty clean, pretty simple. Everyday I spend 20 minutes extra after every session, hitting serves. So over the course of the week or month, overall, you will see improvement if you keep spending time on the courts."
Angelinos, who played for some time on Tour and touched a career-high rank of 251 in December 2013, has great challenge before him. It is his first big coaching assignment. "I have been coaching for few months and Som is first player (on Pro circuit). It's been good. We have played in college and tour together. It's going well."
He said it will be difficult for Somdev to change his game drastically but some things can be done. He firmly believes that Somdev is definitely "good enough" to be a top-60 player.
"There are certain aspects [in which] he can get better. Go after some points a bit more, improving forehand and serve. You have to go after the serves and be more aggressive. The base of his game is hard to change. But yes, some aspects need to change to get back to top-100. That's our goal. He has done it before and we will again get there as soon as possible."