Anand Amritraj concerned about lack of success of singles players
Former Davis Cup captain Anand Amritraj finds it worrying that India’s top singles players cannot prevail in close matches on the ATP World Tour despite strong play to back them up. He says the ability to handle pressure and make the right decisions determines the outcome of matches.
At the Tata Open Maharashtra, Sasikumar Mukund, the country’s top singles player, Ramkumar Ramanathanand Sumit Nagal fought against higher ranked opponents but ultimately lost and were knocked out in the first round.
All advanced the game to a point where either player could have won but failed to score when it mattered. Ramkumar (ranked 435) lost to world number 62 Pedro Martinez despite a one-set lead, while Mukund (ranked 340) lost to Flavio Cobolli (ranked 171) with scores 4-6, 5-7. (6-3 5-7 3-6).
Nagal extended world number 54 Flip Krajinovic to three sets but lost the match as he tried to improvise in the decider in a tight scenario. Nagal’s ranking dropped to 503 after the injury-forced layoff.
Amritraj, who led the Indian Davis Cup from 2013 to 2018, told PTI: “I was very impressed with Sumit Nagal, I think he played very well; just some bad shot choices in the final set at 4-4, and that cost the game.”
“I watched Saikumar Mukund, again, very closely, 6-4 7-5, a few knocks here and there. I don’t understand why our boys, as good as they play, aren’t able to winning games on the ATP Tour.” They are doing well in the Challengers, but they have to win games in bigger events. “The closing of matches seems to be a problem.”
Manas Dhamne, 15, received a wild card from the organizers and performed brilliantly. Even though he lost, he gave American veteran Michael Mmoh an uphill battle without being overwhelmed.
Amritraj, 71, said while losing Dhamne is always respectable, more experienced athletes like Nagal and Mukund should be able to triumph. “Closing the issue is worrying. In the case of the 15-year-old, it’s a lack of experience but coming to Sumit Nagal and Mukund, have played enough on the Tour to close the games.”
“Tennis, as we know, is all between the ears. Everyone has the shots, the backhand, the forehand, the volleys, and it serves at that level of the game. It’s a matter of how you close the game. It all comes down to confidence or what’s going on in your head.” At the commercial end of the set or match, how you serve it. It comes down to a few points here and there.” According to Amritraj, this is also not a good indicator since Indian players are regularly injured.
In November 2021, Nagal underwent hip surgery; as a result, he missed nearly four months of action. He had 11 first-round losses when he started competing and is currently ranked outside the top 500.
His biggest victory took place in October 2022 against the German Daniel Altmaier, then rated 103, on his favorite surface (clay) (now rated 96). Mukund previously had back problems and in 2019 he pulled out of a Davis Cup game against Pakistan due to a foot injury. Due to injury, Yuki Bhambri and Prajnesh Gunneswaran have missed key moments in their respective careers.
“Mukund is 25 years old. Sumit is around the same age. At that age, the first thing is to keep fit and stay fit. I’m amazed at how many injuries these youngsters have these days.” our generation, this has almost never happened. I don’t know if it’s physical luck or what it is. Now you look at Yuki, he hasn’t played much, but he had a chance to come back (from injury) and play.
“He played Davis Cup with me for five years. He’s one of my favorite players, he hasn’t played singles for a while and now only plays doubles with Saki (Saketh Myneni) .”
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