Vardhan, Balaji to shift focus on playing only doubles

After having toiled in the Futures circuit, Vishnu Vardhan and Sriram Balaji are now making a name for themselves on the Challenger circuit and are soon looking to make an impact on the ATP Tour. 

Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan in action at the Chennai Open Challenger.   -  R. Ragu

Coming off a successful 2017 that saw them lift three ATP Challenger and six ITF Futures titles, the Indian doubles pair of Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan won their first title of 2018 when they triumphed over Cem Ilkel and Danilo Petrovic in the Chennai Open Challenger on Friday.

The win serves not only as a massive morale boost for the pair but also gives them a robust chance of realising their dream of playing at the coveted grass-courts of Wimbledon.

“We're definitely going to play the Wimbledon this year,” said a confident-sounding Vardhan after the win. “We have been doing well in the Challengers and are aiming to improve our ranking until June," the 30-year-old added.

After the win, the duo’s combined ranking has jumped to 217, which is likely to earn them a spot in the Wimbledon's qualifying draw. “However, our main aim is to make the main draw, for which the cut-off is a combined ranking of 160,” he added.

Read: Balaji-Vardhan pair lifts Chennai Open Challenger title

Commenting on the transition from playing singles to doubles, both players opined that doubles will become their prime focus hereon. “Until now, we focused on singles and doubles was like a second wheel that came along. But now it’s the opposite, we’ve made doubles as our first preference,” said Vardhan.

After having toiled in the Futures circuit, Vardhan and Balaji are now making a name for themselves on the Challenger circuit and are soon looking to make an impact on the ATP Tour. 

On their target for the upcoming year, Balaji said, “Our goal is to at least reach the 80's or 90's (individually). That’s the minimum benchmark. We're going to try to get to 65 so that we are set for the year. Given our current ranking, we know that we are set to play all the Challengers in 2018. We want to play all the Tour events and Grand Slams in 2019.”

Also read: Yuki Bhambri enters Chennai Open Challenger final

When asked if the if they would prefer to play at the 2018 Asian Games or the US Open, given that they will be held simultaneously, the duo made it clear that playing for the country would be their first choice. “Playing for India is always our priority and it always comes first for both of us. It won't really be a hard decision to make,” said Balaji.

“It's not like we will be defending a lot of points if we play the US Open and at the same time we don't want to miss it either. However, the Asian Games are held only once in four years, unlike the US Open. At this moment, the Asian Games is a priority for us. However, we will make a decision when the time comes,” Vardhan concluded.