Hoping to build on a great year

 With his marathon victory in the reverse singles, the lad from Tripura ensured that he will remain in spotlight for some time to come. On arrival from South Africa, Somdev spoke to Deccan Herald on that tie, his career and future Davis Cup prospects. Excerpts:

What does the win against South Africa mean to you?
It’s a huge win for us, going back to the World Group after 11 years feels great. This should give Indian tennis the boost it needs. It’s been a super 2009 Davis Cup campaign for us. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish it. Now we have to prepare well for Russia as they are a powerhouse.

How does it feel to be identified as the spearhead of Indian tennis?
It's a privilege and a huge resposibility and hopefully I will keep performing and winning for India. My job was to win two singles matches and I am happy I delivered. Of course Leander's absence was felt immensely, but it did not put any added pressure on me.

How different is it playing for the country compared to playing on the pro circuit?
It’s always great playing for something bigger than yourself. In Davis Cup you are representing over a billion people which is a huge honour. Plus you have your team-mates who are supporting you. The pro circuit can be very lonely and that’s why you need a solid support system.

Do you think you could have done better following your final appearance in the Chennai Open?
I went through an indifferent patch after the Chennai Open. But I am not complaining about the year I've had. It’s been a solid year as far as Davis Cup is concerned and hopefully I will build on it in 2010.

How do you look at India’s next opponents Russia?
It’s our biggest challenge since I have been on the team. They have been dominating Davis Cup over the last decade or so and have always done well. We will have to play our best to beat them in their own backyard. Having said that, it’s Davis Cup and anything is possible!

A look at India’s route to the Davis Cup World Group this year:
Asia-Oceania Group I:
n 1st round: India received a bye.
n Quarterfinals: India beat Chinese Taipei 3-2.
Somdev Devvarman bt T Chen 7-5, 6-4, 6-4;
Rohan Bopanna lt to Y Lu 6-7(2), 2-6, 2-6;
Mahesh Bhupathi/ Leander Paes bt T Yang/ C Yi 6-4, 7-6(0), 6-7(2), 6-2; S Devvarman bt Y Lu 6-1, 6-2, 6-3; Bopanna lt to T Yang 3-6, 6-7(6), 6-7(5).
n Semifinal: Australia, India’s rivals, pulled out owing to security concerns handing India a place in the World Group Play-off.
n World Group Play-off: India bt South Africa 3-2.
S Devvarman bt Van der Merve 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-4; R Bopanna bt R de Voest 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4; M Bhupathi/ R Bopanna lt to J Coetzee/ W Moodie 3-6, 6-3, 0-4 (retired); S Devvarman bt R de Voest 3-6, 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4;
Yuki Bhambri bt Van der Merve 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
n India’s best Davis Cup performances:
Finalists in 1966 (lost to Australia 1-4), 1974 (gave walkover to South Africa due to the latter’s apartheid policies) and 1987 (lost to Sweden 0-5).

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