Indian Tennis

In Divij Sharan and Purav Raja, India could have (finally) found another talented men’s doubles pair

The duo might have lost in the Chennai Open final, but their performance across the week was a career-defining turning point.

The recently concluded Chennai Open had a lot of revelations for the Indian tennis spectrum, especially on the doubles front with the first-of-its-kind all-Indian doubles final contested on Sunday.

Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan notched the win to end their short-term partnership on a high note. For the finalists, the long-standing duo of Divij Sharan and Purav Raja, it was however a timely opportunity to come out of the fringes of the Indian tennis realm from where they had been – rather inadvertently – cast aside. In that, though not unprecedented in the ATP Tour, their Chennai Open success was nonetheless a pivot as it helped an entire nation get better acquainted with the pair, who had had long been shrouded by more prominent names and faces.

Making a case for themselves

Play

In the course of the lengthy 2016 ATP season, Sharan and Raja went on to establish themselves as one of the dominant teams in the ATP Challenger circuit, with five titles, the rung right below the ATP Tour in the sport’s organisational hierarchy. Starting the new season, it did not take long for them to carry forward this confidence in its first ATP event, right at home. Thus, while the unseeded pair had an unlikely road into the finals, at no point did they seem like they did not belong there. They began their tournament with an upset – over the third seeded team of Andre Sa and Leander Paes – and followed it up right till the end, with another upset win over the Argentinian second seeds of Andres Molteni and Guillermo Duran in the semi-finals.

Moreover, their finishing as the runner-ups not only had them accumulating 150 ranking points, but it also accounted for each attaining a career high in the ATP rankings – 55th for Sharan and 61st for Raja – and an entry into the main draw of the Australian Open.

In Scroll.in’s brief chat with Sharan, following the Chennai Open, the 30-year-old pointedly noted the latter two facets were a significant boost for their career here on. “It was obviously a very productive week and it was a great start for the year,” he opened up, before continuing, “We will be going for the Australian Open next and this finals will definitely keep us motivated. We have had some good results in all the tournaments and yes the rankings have improved after last week so that should help us getting into more (ATP) 250 events now onwards and be sure of making the Slams. Our rankings are better now and we shouldn’t be worrying about Grand Slam cuts. A few more good wins and a few more good results will also give us a chance at the ATP 500s.”

Understanding in their partnership

Cyclically, playing a greater proportion of tournaments in the ATP Tour would add to Sharan and Raja’s visibility as a team even as it would help them maintain – from the Indian tennis perspective – a presence as a bankable pair in the bigger events of the Tour. As it stands, while both Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna, the country’s leading names in the international doubles circuit, will be teaming up with new partners; Paes with Andre Sa and Bopanna with Pablo Cuevas, with both teams needing some adjustment period to get to know each other well, which would then reflect in their results, Sharan and Raja’s familiarity with each other makes them quite a well-settled pair in the midst of the motley mix of doubles pairings.

“We have our strengths and we kind of use them well together,” described Sharan, speaking about the ease that they brought on to the court. “Both of us being from India, we are good friends. We have a similar understanding of doubles so that helps us. So, it’s a mix of all these things and the understanding we have. There are days, when you may not play your best but because we have that kind of understanding and trust, we find that support in each other (to think) that there is a chance we might get back into the match where we have not played so well. Or, if we have had a bad day (and to know) that’s fine and it’s part and parcel of the game. (To understand) it’s normal and we are ready for the next match.”

The Indian Davis Cup factor

Such assuredness, while needed in the competitive thrust of the ATP world, would not also go amiss in the Indian Davis Cup scenario that’s has seen a huge upheaval in the last couple of weeks, regarding the team composition.

Alongside the limited prospects available to choose and pick from for the singles line-up, the Indian Davis Cup has also fallen behind in its doubles game too. And, far from being the favourites – and having a steady doubles team – during the time Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi worked in tandem, the doubles team selection has also started to differ, hinging upon each tie.

Until now, while their rankings made it harder for them to get into the Indian Davis Cup team, the upward movement of the same could see Sharan and Raja get a chance to play in the Davis Cup thereby giving the Indian doubles structure in the team-based format a renewed sense of purpose and credibility. It would also be an apt summarisation of the lengthy road their career took, before potentially poising them as the face of Indian tennis, not only for the immediate future, but also for several years ahead.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Inspiration for the lazy, the casual and the gourmet home chefs alike

Discover, or rediscover the daily delight in food, one ingredient at a time.

It is known that home chefs can be arranged in a pyramid - the lazy ones at the bottom, the casual cooks in the middle and the gourmet experts at the top. While the challenges differ with each level, great solutions exist to make every meal an experience, regardless of the kind of cook you are. This guide to creating delightful food has something for everyone.

The lazy, hassled home chefs

You can ease into cooking by putting together meals that require minimal technique. Salads are a good place to start. Experiment with seasonal and exotic fruits and vegetables, tender vegetables and herbs, and artisanal breads as sides for a fresh, healthy and surprisingly gourmet experience.

Don’t be dismayed if you’re a non-vegetarian. There are still meals that require next-to-no prep. Think sausages that can easily be fried or grilled and cold cuts that pack a flavour punch. Health-conscious people can look for additive-free, preservative-free meat, bromate free bread and produce from free-range farms for assurance of quality. For variety, you can even put together a great Middle Eastern platter with fresh hummus and other dips.

For the casual cooks looking to impress

So, you can cook a decent meal but are looking to give your food that X-factor? To liven up regular dishes, experiment with superfoods which make your meals nutritious and novel. Try combinations like oats chila, quinoa or couscous upmas or a sprinkle of chia seeds in your breakfast pudding. Look for quality imports and efficient distribution for maximum retention of nutrients in superfoods.

Skilled enough to host people? An upgrade from basic ingredients is the most visible sign of your culinary progression. Experiment with exotic herbs like parsley, rosemary and sage as garnishing for intriguing flavours in your soups and salads. For lip-smacking desserts, use exotic fruits like kiwi, dragon fruit, acai berries and rambutan – your guests will be delighted.

For the perfectionist gourmet chefs

You’re quite the culinary expert in your circles, but want to leap to the next level? At the core of a successful gourmet creation lie the best ingredients. Seek a delicatessen which gives you only the freshest and most diverse range of ingredients. You’ll notice the difference in flavours as you move from garlic powder to actual garlic, and from chilli powder to real paprika in your preparations.

From the basic to the exotic, whatever ingredients you seek to implement the tips we just gave you are available at Godrej Nature’s Basket, the best store for fresh, quality ingredients. As the video below shows, their online and offline stores source and serves a wide variety of foods - fruits & vegetables, authentic delicatessen, the finest meats, irresistible bakery products, ready-to-cook sauces, healthy snacks and more.

Play

Health-conscious people can also be assured of unmatched quality. You can choose from pesticide free offerings, organic fruits and vegetables, steroid-free meats, first catch of the day fish and seafood, bromate free bread and the best dairy and cheese from all over the world.

With their collection of hors d’oeuvre, artisanal breads, confectionary and desserts, there’s really no limit to what you can achieve daily in your kitchen. What’s more, all these high-quality products come at great, affordable prices.

To elevate your cooking and discover a world where food is a delight every day, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Godrej Nature’s Basket and not by the Scroll editorial team.