New Delhi: When Somdev Devvarman steps on the DLTA courts, he brings with himself a touch of invincibility. Ask him about his love-affair with the venue, where he has not lost single match since 2010, he struggles to find the right answer.
It all began with winning the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold and continued with two Delhi Open titles, the second coming in February this year. He could not say much on what makes DLTA so good for him but he is sure about one that thing that he feels "different" when he play here and hopes to continue his special relationship with the venue and help India qualify for the elite Davis Cup World Group.
He has not had a great season so far but he wants to keep a safe distance from number crunchers.
On his own admission, he does not "care" about rankings any more and just concentrates on playing good tennis. He says he is losing some close matches and if he can win those, everything will fall back in place. He has had ordinary last two years on the demanding Tour but is sure that he can "make it happen".
While he is not keen on talking about his ranking, the admiration for compatriot Yuki Bhambri was evident as he spoke about the Delhi boy's red-hot form.
Somdev feels that the kind of form Yuki is in these days, he looks set to break into top-100 and his title win at Shanghai Challenger is a great morale booster ahead of the Davis Cup tie.
While gearing up for the Davis Cup test against Czech Republic shedding buckets of sweat at the DLTA courts with coach Zeeshan Ali for company, Somdev spoke to PTI on a range of issues.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q) What about your plans. Do you see yourself breaking into top-100 by the end of this season?
A) To be honest, I don't care anymore. I just want to play good tennis. I just want to win. I am not bothered. Obviously, I would like to finish in top-100 and make the main draw in the Australian Open and have a better schedule. If I don't, I will play in Qualies. But the key for me is to stay healthy and win close matches that I am losing. I can make that happen.
Q) The last two years you have had ordinary results. How your career is shaping up?
A) For my standards, it's not been the best two years. The thing is that there have been patches of quality tennis. I have never won two Challengers in a year in my life. So, there are some positives as well. I am losing a lot of three set matches.
Q) This has been a tough season for you. You lost many fist round matches. How are you shaping up for the tie?
A) It's been tough. I have lost a few close matches. But once I went back home, it was nice and relaxing. When you are in the middle of the tour, you don't get a chance to be at home, it was nice. I practised at home also and here twice today, feeling good after first day.
Q) It is because that you play defensive and do not attack more, just try to wear opponent out?
A) It's a combination of lot of things. In sports, everything is momentum. I have been in this place so many times and it takes one or two wins and things start turning around. I have been working hard. The answer for me is that it's going to come through hard work. It's still not too late for that. Everebody knows that I am going to work hard. Let's hope.
Q) We have seen you getting results when you attacked more and rushed on to net. Should it not be a regular feature in your game.
A) It does not hurt. It's one thing to say, go and play attacking tennis and it's another thing to execute it. Sometimes a lot of players know the right thing to do but it's not easy to execute. It depends on situation, the guy on the other side of the court. What they are allowing you to do? Then a lot comes on confidence and easy things become difficult, if you are not confident.
Q) What is your reason for coming couple of days ahead of others?
A) The coach (Zeeshan Ali) and the captain (Anand Amritraj) said, that earlier you come, the better it is. Getting used to the heat and the conditions. Hopefully, it works as an advantage as it is going to be a tough tie.
Q) You have enjoyed great results in Delhi. You have not lost here in years. How hopeful you are continue your incredible record?
A) That's one of the reasons that we chose this venue. Me and Yuki both have lot of success on this court particularly. Hopefully, the home court helps us. The weather seems to be shaping great for the Indians, hopefully it remains like this. We have given ourselves a chance.
Q) What makes this venue so special for you?
A) It's combination of lot of things. To be honest, everytime I come here, I feel different. May be it's luck, maybe it's winning key points here and there. Something about this place makes very comfortable. In the past, that is how it has been. I hope it continues. This tie, I am going to do everything I can.
Q) The absence of Tomas Berdych should work to India's advantage.
A) It's a huge boost. The guy is a top player single-handedly, he won the Davis Cup twice for Czech Republic, playing singles on Friday, doubles on Saturday and the singles on Sunday. The guy is really done it. Not having having him, hurts them a lot. Let's hope that it works in our advantage.
Q) Do you know that Czechs are a bit worried about your record here. Lukas Rosol was mentioning it in an interview?
A) Wow! I did not know that they are aware about that. It's good (that they know). We will give visitors a good fight.
Q) Rosol is not the same player, who beat Rafael Nadal two years back. Do you think, India can attack him more?
A) He is still ranked higher than both of us. He won a round in the US Open as well. Not too long ago the guy was seeded in the Slams. He's a tough guy to attack. He has got a huge serve, huge forehand and a huge backhand. He hits the ball big. It's tough to play against these guys on your terms.
Q) Did you know Jiri Vesley is yet to win a live singles rubber in Davis Cup?
A) That's news to us. I never knew that. Hopefully that continues (laughs).
Q) Yuki today won a Challenger in Shanghai. That's good for India.
A) He is in great form. During New Zealand tie, the guy really upped his game. He played world class tennis. The only people who saw was us. Even after that he went to States and made two semis before the US Open and even there lost a very close three-setter to a pretty good player, Nishioka. He is ready to make a huge leap in his career.
He is ready to break top-100 in my opinion. He is working hard. Hats off to him, huge morale booster for us with him coming in with a Challenge win. He is sharp and winning close matches.
Q) Davis Cup has often brought the best out of you. Hoping for the same in this tie?
A) Last year something similar happened. I played a good rubber against Serbia. I love playing Davis Cup, I love playing the five-set format. Playing at home and in Delhi is. It's going to be tough but I am going to fight for every point.