India Insight

Indian tennis players “lack killer instinct”: Bogdan Obradovic

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

Riding on the back of two magnificent comeback matches (Leander Paes-Rohan Bopanna doubles victory, followed by Somdev Devvarman’s win in singles in Bangalore), Yuki Bhambri, 22, had everything going for him in the final rubber of the India-Serbia World Group play-off tie. Yuki had the “momentum” going into the match against Filip Krajinovic, 22, but he didn’t bring two important ingredients to the court: tenacity and killer instinct.

India paid dearly.

Filip, playing the biggest match of his Davis Cup career, a live fifth rubber, showed remarkable composure to best his opponent in three straight sets 6-3 6-4 6-4, ensuring Serbia’s return to where it belongs, the World Group.

“It’s easy to criticise during crisis time, but one has to tell the player how to raise the game when things are not going his way. A captain cannot afford to drop his shoulders when the player on court is making a series of unforced errors. The captain should be up on his feet trying to bring back that spark in the player,” said Bogdan Obradovic, Serbia’s non-playing captain. He did not name Anand Amritraj while hinting at the Indian captain’s lack of passion in backing the players in a team event like Davis Cup.

Bogdan said if Indian players like Yuki and Somdev manage to instill that killer instinct in their game, India would show up regularly in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Davis Cup.

Davis Cup: India scripts phenomenal comeback

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

It was a comeback of epic proportions. A kind that Leander Paes admitted he hadn’t been a part of in a doubles match in his entire 24 years of Davis Cup career.

Non-playing captain Anand Amritraj, a doubles semi-finalist at Wimbledon, said, “In the last 20-25 years, this is the most amazing comeback that I’ve seen.”

Davis Cup: the mind games that teams play

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

In the Davis Cup, games begin long before the tie. The World Group playoff tie between host nation India and 2013 finalist Serbia, scheduled for Sept. 12-14, is no different. The moves, counter-moves and posturing are flying faster than aces – all for that psychological edge.

A grass court, which proved to be a crucial ally in the past, is no more a surface of preference for Team India as most of its players, except Leander Paes, are bred on hardcourt.

Tendulkar exits, Anand slips during emotional 2013

Sachin Tendulkar bid a teary-eyed farewell to cricket while contemporary Viswanathan Anand lost his world chess crown in an emotional year for Indians in sports.

Forty-year-old Tendulkar, statistically the greatest batsman ever, walked into the sunset in November after his 200th test at his home Wankhede Stadium brought the cricket-crazy nation to a standstill.

“My life’s been 22 yards for 24 years. It’s hard to believe that wonderful journey is coming to an end,” an emotional Tendulkar said during a moving farewell speech as most Indians on and off the ground battled to hold back tears.

The Indian Express chugs in again

It was a victory long overdue and the reunion was perhaps destined to happen in no other tournament but the Chennai Open.

As India’s star tennis pair — Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes — clinched their fifth Chennai Open doubles crown in 2011, there was more than one reason to celebrate.

File photo of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes celebrating victory after their match against Zimbabwes Black and Ullyett at the Athens 2004 Olympic. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/FilesThe victory came nine long years after their last triumph at Chennai. Their last ATP title win together was at the 2004 Toronto Masters.

Martina Navratilova — the India connection

Tennis great Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The 53-year-old is expected to begin six weeks of radiation therapy in May following minor invasive surgery.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova poses for a portrait in New York April 7, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas JacksonDespite her impressive tennis stats — 18 Grand Slam singles titles including nine wins at Wimbledon — fans in India would perhaps treasure the Czech-born Navratilova’s mixed doubles partnership with India’s Leander Paes.

In 2003, they teamed up to win the Australian Open and Wimbledon — making Navratilova, then 46, the oldest Grand Slam champion ever.

Indian tennis — flash in the pan or pointer to future?

Indian tennis is enjoying a wonderful run with three strong performances underlining the quality of their young players.
 
First it was the refreshingly energetic Somdev Devvarman who raced to the final of the Chennai Open, raising big hopes for India with their stalwarts Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes into their mid 30s.
 
Then 16-year-old Yuki Bhambri belied his lean frame but underlined his top ranking to claim the Australian Open boys’ singles title.

The Delhi boy is aiming to move on to the men’s circuit at the earliest, showing the understanding that the professional tour is where one needs to establish oneself.
 
Sania Mirza then claimed her first senior grand slam title, winning the mixed doubles with Mahesh Bhupathi, which gave him his 11th grand slam title win.
 
For Mirza, the title will be really sweet, coming as she is after a frustrating period due to a wrist injury.
 
The performances by the trio shows the potential Indian tennis has as it looks into the future.
 
But is India capable of building a strong line-up and then a steady stream of players who can back up the main national stars?

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