Nedunchezhiyan eyes top-60 slot in doubles, berth in tennis slams

Kolkata, Jan 16 (IANS) The Chennai Open doubles title already under his belt, upcoming Indian tennis player Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan is now eyeing a slot in the top 60 of the ATP doubles rankings to be in contention for the Grand Slam berths.

Nedunchezhiyan, who partnered Rohan Bopanna to become the first Indian pair since 2011 to win the Chennai Open crown, is still gloating over the triumph, particularly because for the first time all four players in the final were from India.

“It is a historic win for Indian tennis. I think it shows that India has now a breed of doubles players for the future,” Nedunchezhiyan told IANS in a telephonic interview from Chennai.

“This is by far the best win of my career,” said Nedunchezhiyan, who started playing doubles in 2016.

Talking about his future plans, the Chennai lad said he is eyeing the three Grand Slams after the Australian Open.

For that, the 86th ranked doubles player needs to break into the top 60 to ensure a shot at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

“I am going to play some Challengers in America. I need to work in the challenger circuit and continue to perform there. Only then can I move from 86 to 76 and 66 and things like that.

“Once I can achieve that, I can start playing these tour events more consistently. I need to be inside top 60 to be playing the Slams. Top 70 is also pretty safe but top 60 will guarantee it. So if I am 86, I am knocking on the door and have a very good opportunity,” Nedunchezhiyan said.

“To be playing in the Slams you need to have a combined ranking of 140. Usually players play with partner with the same ranking. The safe thing is if you’re 70 you are guaranteed of being combined inside 140; so I have to work towards that. I am not very far off. I still require many more consistent performances.”

For the 28-year-old, playing alongside a seasoned campaigner like Bopanna in the Chennai Open — an ATP World Tour 250 series event — was an enriching experience. It was only the second time the duo had come together, and Nedunchezhiyan is not sure whether they can form a more durable partnership in the future.

“I learnt a lot playing with Rohan. But it’s just one tournament and it’s a 250. He needs to focus on playing bigger events which are the 500 and 1,000 events. He needs to find a partner going by his ranking. His goal is to finish in the top eight in his race to London at the end of the season,” Nedunchezhiyan said.

“You never know what will happen in the future. For now I am happy Rohan has given me an opportunity and hopefully something good will come down the road.

“Still I am only 87 or 86 in the world and he is 28. My journey is to continue performing well in the challengers and crack the top 60 and top 50. And then we can worry about consistent partnership for the future of Indian doubles,” he added.

Nedunchezhiyan said the lack of a proper system is the reason behind the country not producing enough singles players.

“There is no system in place for producing a singles player in India. The associations have not done anything to systematically plan for the singles specialists in the country. The same can be said for doubles. It’s just that Indians seem to be more gifted with their hands in playing the doubles better than most people,” he signed off.

(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at debayan.m@ians.in)

–IANS

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