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The Somdev Factor

Without the name of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes featuring in the Tennis team send for Asian Game 2010s, it seemed the complete responsibility to represent India fell on the young shoulders of Somdev Devvarman. But those who watched this dynamic player on the court, can easily say that the stalwarts of Indian tennis were not missed at all.

The Asian games win of doubles and singles gold by Somdev revealed his true character to the spectators worldwide. That of a true champion who knows the stakes are high and can still excel in tight situations.

Winning has become a regular feature in this Tripura lad’s life because he has learnt that to win matches you have to have complete control over your emotions, mental strength and technical skills.

After the CWG games in Delhi, most of the star performers struggled to keep their momentum at an equally demanding international event just one month after. Although India has finally finished the Asian Games with a medal tally best ever for the games, the nation could have definitely fared well if many shooters, wrestlers, badminton players could have got ample time to rest between the Asiad and CWG. According to Ronjan Sodhi, the shooter who won gold in the Asian games, he could manage the feat only because he went to Italy immediately after the CWG to distract himself from the felicitation ceremonies coming his way and reducing the training time. Definitely it was this crucial decision that helped him achieve the golden target.

For Somdev too the CWG gold came with a rush of engagements, felicitations, parties and press conferences. He avoided those but there were also many tennis tournaments in that one month span that he could not avoid. The very next day after CWG win he was in Tashkent playing for a tournament. He kept shuffling in and out of the country continuously and yet when it came to clutching that pious gold, he did it with his trademark earnestness and panache.

From his early days when Somdev played for University of Virginia he had this quality of upsetting matches, winning even when he was the less favored player. He beat big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic at the Chennai Open in 2009 and he even beat former world No 1 Carlos Moya there. Therefore, though the draw this time at the Asian Games final were placed between a world no. 44 player Dennis Istomin and World No. 106 Somdev, the less experienced Indian made clear that his Arjun like focus brought the gold medal easily into his lap. The Uzbek player faltered, struggled and slipped into oblivion as he was smashed left, right and centre by somdev with an extraordinary 6-1, 6-2 win.

In the doubles final too Somdev paired with young Sanam Singh who displayed quite a fantastic game on the court but was possibly learning and getting motivated every moment by his more capable partner. It was visible during their matches that Somdev kept cheering and prepping the young lad as he missed a shot or made service faults. The team effort finally won the gold and the one who led this team to such a memorable victory was none other than Somdev.

The country now expects a lot from him and surely the expectations are not illogical. When a man can win three heavy duty titles consecutively he must have something in him of the stuff champions are made of. Let us hope that this spirited youth continues to spread his magic on the court and plays with heart and soul every single match of his life.


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