Not scared, says Nadal

Spanish ace well prepared to meet the challenge in New York

Gearing Up: Viktor Troicki (right) of Serbia works with his trainer ahead of the US Open tennis championship in New York on Sunday. Reuters

"I am not scared," the 23-year-old Mallorcan told ‘Spain's El Pais’ daily. "I was out for two months and then (this month) I got to the quarterfinals at the Montreal Masters and the semis at the Cincinnati Masters.

"I know that here (at the US Open) a quarterfinal or a semi would be a very good result but I am coming to win," added the six-times grand slam winner. "When I retire nobody will remember if I get to quarters or semis."

Australian Open champion Nadal said his first-round match against Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who is making his return after a ban for inadvertently taking cocaine, could be very difficult. "He has the potential of one of the very best and if he has a good day it will be a very tough match," he said. "Although I know that if I play well I have a chance to beat Gasquet and a great deal more."

Somdev raring to go
A gruelling qualifying campaign notwithstanding, India’s rising tennis star Somdev Devvarman says fatigue will not be a factor when he opens his campaign at the US Open.
The two-time winner of the US Collegiate championship and the first Indian in seven years to make a Grand Slam’s main draw dismissed suggestions that he would be tired in his opening match against Poland’s Fredrico Gil.

“I am not tired at all. On the contrary, I go into the match sharp as I have already played matches, so I am feeling good about the way I am playing,” Somdev said. For the first time, Somdev will be competing in a field which has greats like Roger Federer and fighters like Rafael Nadal. But he is not awestruck.

“I never looked at it that way. I just want to focus on myself and be ready for the challenges that lie ahead of me. There is obviously a lot I can learn from these two incredible players and others like them,” he said. Somdev said he was not distracted by the elation caused by his qualification, and is focussed on the task ahead. “Yes I am happy, but there is still a lot more to do in this tournament. I am focussing now on my first-round opponent,” Somdev said. “I am just focussing on Frederico Gil right now. One match at a time.”

Indian icons like Leander Paes have extolled Somdev for becoming the first Indian since 2001 to have qualified for a Grand Slam. Paes himself was the last Indian player to qualify for a Grand Slam when he made the Wimbledon main draw in 2001.

In 2002, Prakash Amritraj played in the US Open but his was a wild card entry. Hence, Indian Davis Cup captain SP Misra has said Somdev’s achievement ‘counts for more’.
Considering Somdev’s performance in the recent past, qualification for the US Open is hardly a surprise. He made the finals of Chennai Open after taking out some major names in front of adoring home fans.

Thrice he attempted to make the Grand Slam grade earlier this year but never went the full distance. So, did it take too long to reach here? “It’s never late. I have been working hard; at times, things don’t go your way. You just have to stay solid and keep doing the right things to help you get to where you want to,” he said, giving ample indications that he is not short on patience.

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