With a career-high world tennis ranking of 71, Somdev Devvarman is aiming for higher ground. In a phone conversation, Devvarman talks about his plans for the year ahead. Edited excerpts from the interview:
What have you been doing differently in the past months?
The difference has just been training; it has made a big difference to my game because when I am in practice, I feel like I am hitting the ball really well. Then, it is all about translating that on to the court and putting my best foot forward in the match. Earlier this year, I had trouble translating my practice on to the court.
Going strong: Somdev Devvarman at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, US, last month.AP
Are you happy with the way things are going for you right now? What are your goals for the rest of the year?
I am playing good tennis. The most important thing is to know that I am giving it my best effort, so on that front I feel pretty good. It’s a long year ahead; we’ve just started and the first quarter has just finished, so there is a lot more tennis to be played. I need to stay fit, healthy—ranking and points will take care of themselves.
Hard courts have always been your forte. Looking ahead at the clay season, how would you rate your chances?
I have played on clay for the last couple of seasons but I haven’t had any spectacular success, so my coach Scott McCain and I have made some changes in my game. I plan to go to Europe a week in advance to get adjusted to the clay courts there.
What have been the finer adjustments in your game this year?
It (2010) was a good year but I have always felt that I had a lot more in my game, that I could really take it forward and play better tennis. Towards the end of 2010, I tried to translate much of that to my game, so I focused on getting stronger, fitter and run down every ball. Once that is in place, I could stop worrying about much else. I worked upon my serve, quite a bit on coming forward and finishing points on the net, and also improving my forehand.
What is the one thing you’d like to improve right now in your game?
I have been serving better, but it’s been on and off. I want to make it more consistent and make it a weapon to reckon with, something I can rely on and trouble opponents with more consistently.
Many top international players have been known to skip the Davis Cup. With your singles career now taking off well, do you also face this dilemma?
Not yet luckily. Davis Cup has always been a priority for me. I have not been playing a long while in Davis Cup; only for the past two years. I take a lot of pride in playing for India and I don’t foresee any problems in my playing for my country.
What are your plans to strengthen your doubles for the Davis Cup?
When I was on the Challenger tour, it was different; I couldn’t get to play as much doubles because I couldn’t get into the draw. With my ranking improving now, I can get into the mainstream draw and hopefully, therefore, I can get into more doubles too.
You’ve played both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal this year. Comparing the two, who do you think is more beatable and stands a better chance of pushing the limit?
If you look at the scoreline, it’s pretty simple to guess (Federer won 6-3, 6-3, Nadal won 7-5, 6-4). But both are great players, and have humbled a lot of other good tennis players. A lot depends on the day, if you show up and feel ready to play, then I think you have a good chance.