India needs committed singles players: Amritraj

March 12, 2019

Lawn TennisAmritraj


Vijay Amritraj hung up his racquet long ago, but his association with tennis still remains strong.

Only the second Indian to break into the world’s singles top 20, Amritraj remains the strongest Indian voice on the international tour.

As the Road to Wimbledon kicks off its sixth edition in India, Amritraj — associated with the programme since its inception — spoke to The Hindu on world tennis and what he thinks Indian tennis needs.

Six years on, how do you see the programme developing in Asia and India in particular?

When we were playing, the only two reasons to play this game was to play Wimbledon and the Davis Cup. For us, London was so far away, it was a far-fetched dream. Today, Wimbledon is coming to your doorstep.

The important aspect here is to have self-belief and the work ethic to fulfil your dream. This will be my 50th year at Wimbledon without missing a year and even today I get goosebumps when I walk through SW 19.
Andy Murray has called time on his career and the other three — Federer, Nadal, Djokovic — aren’t getting any younger. But there doesn’t seem to be any serious contender to their legacy.

We are not going to see, in my generation, another three like them together. You will have winners come along, like Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori or Stanislas Wawrinka. There will be upsets and sporadic wins and there is this whole bunch in the top 25.

But there is a long way to go before putting them in the same basket. What tennis has had over the years is rivalries but rarely between three-four guys. The era of domination is over. These three have more than 50 Grand Slam titles between them, that is ludicrous to even think about! They will leave only when they get hurt.
In India we haven’t had a serious singles contender after the Krishnans and Amritrajs.

The best we have had are all doubles players. We need singles players. That’s why I am excited about Prajnesh (Gunneswaran) at Indian Wells this week. I think he is poised to be in the top 50. This is the closest we have had to someone even knocking on those doors.

We need boys and girls to get into the top 50 and give it their all and not quit at 21 or 22 years because the results haven’t come. Considering the number of players who play tennis, our pool is quite small.

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