Somdev: 'You get funding if you are playing for the country'

The 33-year-old made it clear that Indian players, if they are not playing for the country, shouldn’t expect funding from the Government.

Somdev Devvarman at the Pro-Am golf championship at Madras Gymkhana Club annexe on Wednesday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

India did well at the last Asian Games in Incheon bagging one gold, a silver and two bronze medals. But National observer and former India tennis player Somdev Devvarman is not willing to stick his neck out and reveal anything. For the 2018 Games are clashing with the final Grand Slam of the year—the US Open.

According to the former Chennai Open finalist, the situation is tricky.  “My understanding of Asian Games is tricky as it clashes with US Open qualifying. We don’t know which players are going to play, who is available, whose rankings are where."

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In India, Asian Games are valued more, he said, after competing in the Pro-Am golf event here on Wednesday. “In India, we value Asian Games and playing for the country a lot. We hope Indian guys are available to play. That said, it is tricky, what if Ramkumar is ranked inside the top 100 [in the world] and gets into the main draw of the US Open, which is his first-ever.

"You can’t blame him for not playing in Asian Games. It is a double-edged sword. You don’t know if Lee (Leander Paes), Bops (Rohan Bopanna) are available. You don’t know if it is on their priority list,” he said.

The 33-year-old, however, made it clear that Indian players, if they are not playing for the country, shouldn’t expect funding from the Government.

“You don’t want to fund players who are not going to play for the country. And as a tennis player, you also realise the importance of playing in the Slams.”

According to Somdev, one set of yardstick shouldn’t be applied to all players, and that each case should be studied individually. “It is not possible to frame a grand set of rules and tell players to follow it - Sania's (Mirza) case will be different from say Ramkumar's or Ankita's (Raina). You have to make players understand that they are accountable.

"It is unfair to take funding from the Government and not play for what they are funded for. It is simple as that. That message has to be sent to the players. Then the choice is theirs,” he said.

On the proposed changes in the Davis Cup, Somdev said he continues to be a fan of the existing format.

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“Every sport is coming up with different formats. Everybody said the same thing about IPL. I am still a purist. The current format keeps fans engaged: first round, eight matches in eight countries. Players play at home and away. It is cool and unique. Personally, I don’t like it. But at the same time, it is nice to see sports evolve,” he said.

Somdev said India is a firm favourite in the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group I away tie against China in April. “China is a good team but we are firm favourites. The way Yuki (Bhambri) is playing—his record is good against the Chinese and Ram too is playing well,” he said. "Doubles is not an issue [for us]."