Indians have a chance against Serbia: Amritraj

'CPL is not a rival to Bhupathi's IPTL'

Indians have a chance against Serbia: Amritraj

 A true ambassador of India and its tennis over the years, Vijay Amritraj has also achieved great acclaim as a commentator. More recently, the younger generation too have fallen in love with his energetic and sophisticated voice, thanks to his talk show where he’s interviewed achievers from all walks of life.

In the city to promote his latest talk show series that is already on air, focusing predominantly on Indians who’ve excelled globally, the 60-year-old spoke about his first love as well, focusing on India’s chances in the upcoming Davis Cup tie against Serbia besides giving his views on the young talent. Excerpts from the interaction:


On India’s chances against Serbia in the Davis Cup World Group Play-off in Bangalore: The Serbia match is going to be interesting because Novak (Djokovic) won’t be here, (Janko) Tipsarevic is hurt, (Viktor) Troicki is not on the team. It’s all very good news for us.

It puts us in a position of saying: ‘Yes, the win is well within touching distance’. If on the opening day we can get to 1-1, we’ll be in a good position. Also, Bangalore is probably the best place if you’re not playing on grass. Somdev plays well here -- the ball kicks up a lot higher.

Obviously (Rohan) Bopanna plays well here. From the standpoint of the surface and the locale, with a bit of altitude, it will certainly help us.


On India’s chances at the Asian Games: Away matches are always difficult. Look at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and Glasgow. We won 101 medals in Delhi but just 64 in Glasgow. From the standpoint of our youngsters -- Somdev (Devvarman), Yuki (Bhambri) -- they are in the prime of their careers. This is the time when they should be winning as much as they can because once you cross 31-32 years for singles, you’re just trying to hold on to what you have.


On whether his Champions Tennis League is competing with Mahesh Bhupathi’s International Premier Tennis League:  Well, first of all, there are no two leagues in India, only one. Yes, IPTL has one team here. But as I’ve said from day one, we’re extremely complementary to what Mahesh is doing.

What Mahesh is doing in the Asian continent and for Asian tennis has been nothing short of spectacular. Asia needs IPTL. As you can see, he has tremendous player support. We certainly hope CTL will do a similar thing in India with Indian players. We will have it across Indian cities. This will be complementary to what he’s doing. We end before he begins. I think it works well.


On junior players who have grabbed his attention: We’ve always had very good players in the under-15 age group. I think Yuki (Bhambri) was our last player who did well in the junior ranks. The game becomes very physical at the senior circuit as compared to the juniors. You take a guy like (Nick) Kyrgios, he’s 19 but looks like (Boris) Becker when he was 17.

I’ve always said Indians mature physically later and mentally earlier as compared to the westerners. The western people are physically fully grown at 17-18 years old but mentally not quite good as compared to us.

We have to understand that very important fact. The physical capability of our athlete is going to the best in the mid-20s and not before that. If someone doesn’t get the results at 17-18, we should not get discouraged but work towards achieving the goal in the 20s.


How do we address this issue? First of all, we have to accept the fact that we are going to have more failures than success and that’s why success tastes so good.
Secondly, we have to tailor our training habits in such a way that we don’t push extremely hard in the late teens when injuries could occur.

Look at most of our athletes, they push themselves beyond the limit where injuries come in and thereafter it becomes a constant battle. That’s why I admire (Roger) Federer on how he’s managed to stay on relatively injury free barring a spasm here or there.

Look at Rafa (Nadal) or (Novak) Djokovic, they’ve punished their bodies. My advice would be space it out, rather than squeezing in everything between 15-20.

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