Somdev Devvarman pulls out of Asian Games, upsets AITA

Sep 03, 2014, 19:24 IST | PTI

India's No. 1 tennis player, Somdev Devvarman, has pulled out of the Asian Games to concentrate on ATP tour drawing sharp criticism from the All India Tennis Association

New Delhi: India's top singles player Somdev Devvarman's decision to concentrate on ATP tour at the expense of upcoming Asian Games has come under sharp criticism from the All India Tennis Association, which termed the player's move as "not correct".

"It is not a correct decision and a disappointing one. Somdev said the Federation did not ask for his availability before naming the Asian Games squad. We said that since he is country's number one player, he was expected to play. We said that at least play the team event but he was adamant," a peeved AITA general secretary Bharat Oza said on Wednesday.

"We tried our best. But what to do, what alternative is there," Oza sounded helpless.

Somdev Devvarman
Somdev Devvarman

Somdev, who won two gold medals at last edition of the Asian Games in Gunagzhou, wants to improve his ranking as he has slipped to 143 following a prolonged poor run.

Somdev will lead India's challenge in the Davis Cup to be held from September 12-14 in Bangalore and Asian Games is set to begin in five days time after the World Group play-off tie.

"We had discussion with Anand and Zeeshan Ali (coach) and felt we have a chance in team event. We can't do anything but the government expects the top players to play. We can't force, we can only request. We even informed him that we will be answerable to the government, which may take objection to it," Oza said.

Oza, the new Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association President, also said, they cannot think of taking any disciplinary action. "Tennis is an individual game. They do not play under national federation. We also understand that playing on ATP Tour is their bread and butter. So what can we do? The only thing we have in hand is Davis Cup selection."

Asked if the players were still getting financial help from the government, Oza said, "We present details to the government every year before the budget for helping players, spelling out their travel and coaching requirements but the tennis players have not got anything after 2010 Games," Oza said.

Divij Sharan to replace Somdev

AITA also said that reserve player Divij Sharan will replace Somdev in the squad.

"Divij can play in the mixed doubles. It will be good for him. Sometime back, he was in the top 100, we want to give him recognition, that is why we had selected him."

Asked if it would have been better to select a singles player in place of Somdev, Oza said Yuki Bhambri, Saketh Myneni and Sanam Singh are all good enough to handle singles.

It did not make sense to play Asiad at this phase: Somdev

New Delhi: Somdev Devvarman today stoutly defended his decision to skip the Asian Games, saying "it did not make any sense" playing in Incheon for three weeks at a time when he was striving hard to get back into top-100.

Somdev said that his patriotism should not be questioned on the basis of this decision since he has given his all while doing the national duty in Davis Cup.

"It didn't make sense for my professional career to play," Somdev told PTI from Shangahi, where he is playing in an ATP Challenger tournament.

"I have had a tough year dealing with a few injuries unfortunately. My ranking has dropped but I am starting to feel good finally. Breaking into the top 100 is hard enough and by playing a three-week tournament mid-season definitely doesn't make sense if my goal is to break back into the top 100," the country's top singles player said.

Somdev has been struggling since winning the Delhi Open in February as he has managed to win only six matches in 18 tournaments since then. As a result, he has dropped to 143 in singles ladder.

Asked if not representing the country would hurt his reputation, Somdev said he was "not worried about that at all".

"Everyone who knows me well or has followed my tennis, knows how much I fight every time I have played for the country. For everyone who plays or have been around in professional tennis, I know they understand my decision. Tennis is a very demanding sport. You play and travel full time and try and make a living under very tough circumstances.

"It's only people who don't know and have never been through the grind that will question me. They don't know what it takes to be a professional day in and day out and they don't understand it. And I can't blame them really. So with the actual tennis fraternity in India, I know all will be just fine," he said. 

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