February 20 2019
Good singles players needed, says Vijay Amritraj
19 December 2017

Tennis legend welcomes move to go back to a 16-seed draw in Grand Slams

This week marks three decades since India’s last appearance in a Davis Cup final (against Sweden at Gothenburg) and tennis legend Vijay Amritraj feels it is high time India gives up its obsessive focus on doubles.

Speaking at the launch of Vijay Amritraj Reserve collection of wine here, the former India Davis Cup captain said, “If we are going to be in the World Group, where you are going to face the top 50 players, you need four singles players. They are going to be important.”

When asked if it meant the team should look beyond Leander Paes, Amritraj said, “does he play singles? If not, yes. All our guys play good doubles. So it is important to have three singles guys who can win four singles matches, especially since you may be substituted if needed.”

“The dilemma is always whether you take one good doubles team and two singles players or take three singles and one doubles guy. This is a danger we have in world tennis since guys don’t play singles and doubles.

“We should have two guys who are able to win singles matches on their own and a third guy should be able to step in if needed.”

Commenting on the state of Indian tennis, Amritraj felt that Indian players tended to mature late into their 20s and saw hope in the likes of Ramkuamar Ramanathanan and Yuki Bhambri.

“I saw Ramkumar and Sriram Balaji play recently. There has been a huge improvement but there are so many areas where they can improve.”

“Indian players are going to mature physically in their late 20s. If you have an attacking game by then, like Ram does, and Yuki to a certain extent, it makes a huge difference when you are physically stronger. Their best years will come between 27-32.”

Amritraj, a renowned commentator, welcomed the move to go back to a 16-seed draw in Grand Slams from 2019. “It should always have been 16 seeds. It doesn’t protect the seeds and opens up the draw. That will make a difference and that is how it needs to be.”

Speaking on Roger Federer’s remarkable year, wining two Slams, Amritraj lauded the Swiss’s desire.

“When I saw Roger play in the Australia Open, his desire was amazing to see. It felt like he was a junior again. He was playing with a new racquet and started moving forward on the backhand. When I saw that, I felt this guy was tuned up. With Novak Djokovic returning, next year could be amazing.”



Related Stories