New Delhi: It was courageous of Somdev Devvarman to return to competitive tennis within six months of a shoulder surgery since not many athletes attempt that, says his coach Scott McCain, who also believes that the Indian will be back in top-100.
It took Somdev three months and seven tournaments to record his first win post the surgery and rehabilitation, which is still very much on.
After enduring six first-round defeats since making comeback at London Olympics in July, Somdev won two matches at the Charlottesville Challenger tournament in the US last month.
"Somdev is way ahead of schedule in his comeback. It is a testament to his courage that he was/is willing to return to competition before he was anywhere close to 100 per cent," McCain said from United States.
"According to research and the medical team, an athlete that undergoes this type of surgery may need more than one year for a full recovery. The medical team has stated that Somdev is a diligent rehab patient, hard worker and is very much ahead of schedule in his recovery," the American, who himself was a tennis player, said.
Asked about the prolonged struggle that Somdev endured after comeback, when he lost even to Tom Burn who was ranked as low as 812, the coach said it was due to a lot of factors.
"Poor results can be attributed to lack of tennis court time, lack of match practice, and restricted training on the tennis court to allow for complete healing."
"Somdev has had no restrictions in his training regimen the past few weeks and his performance against Gulbis in Vienna and Zverev in Charlottesville attest to this. If there is no pain, loss of range of motion or swelling and Somdev continues his current training regimen then I expect positive results," he said.
Somdev did extremely well on the ATP tour after turning Pro and also played a crucial part in India`s ascent to World Group in the Davis Cup from the Asia/Oceania zone in 2010.
He rose to a career-high rank of 62 last year before suffering the shoulder injury, which halted his progress.
"I believe Somdev can return to his previous form and success. The important factors are pain, stiffness and loss of flexibility. With time and continued care and rehab, I fully believe Somdev will return to the top 100. We are in a management phase of his comeback," McCain, who has been travelling with Somdev for the last four years, said.
Explaining the current condition of Somdev`s shoulder, McCain said it was "improving".
"For baseline ground strokes he is very close to his previous form of early to mid 2011. For serving he is probably somewhere between 80-90 percent. The important observations are the day following intensive training and practice sessions and matches where we look for any discomfort. In the past month he has not had much if any discomfort the day after such events."
McCain said it was his job to oversee his return to tennis form taking into account how hard to push him or back off based on the condition of his shoulder and the supporting muscular/skeletal system.
The coach also explained that Somdev`s current training is based on court skills first with the emphasis on groundstrokes, movement etc.
"As his shoulder allows we will place greater emphasis on his serving. We could not overdue serving or above the shoulder motion contact in the first 9 months following surgery on Doctors orders," he said.
McCain has already figured out what Somdev needs to do the next season.
"I see 2013 in three phases: returning to high level competition in the first 4 months, while not overplaying and worrying about ranking; preparing for the French Open and Wimbledon and summer hard court events in months 5-8; making an evaluation of his game and health and determining how many events to play in months 9-12," he said.