Melbourne: Proving that off-field issues did not affect him, Somdev Dev Varman, who sauntered to a straight-set win over world No. 78 Bjorn Phau in the first round of the Australian Open, said that he was actually “enjoying” the dispute with the All India Tennis Association (AITA).
The 551st ranked Somdev scored a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win over his German opponent making a statement of sorts. He will take on 24th seed Polish Jerzy Janowicz in the next round.
He is among a group of 11 Indian players, who are demanding better playing conditions in Davis Cup.
“I’ve been enjoying the dispute, speaking honestly. It’s a first in a long time that all the players on the Indian tennis scene, pretty much, are on really good terms with each other,” Somdev said after the match.
“As far as the players are concerned, we know we’re trying to do the best thing for ourselves and our country and give future players the best conditions,” he added.
Somdev said when he steps on court, everything else becomes secondary.
“It’s challenging but it’s a good time and it’s not playing in my mind at all. It's great, actually,” he said.
Somdev said there was amazing support for his cause. “It’s the first time I’ve had 15 text messages after a match — all of them from India players. That shows a lot of support for what we are trying to accomplish. That's important,” the 27-year-old said.
It was the first ATP event meeting between Somdev and 33-year-old Phau.
The 27-year-old Indian served four aces and made just one unforced error in a Court 10 match against Phau that lasted an hour and 50 minutes.
Somdev converted two of the three break point chances that came his way and also hit a couple of aces to comfortably move ahead in the opening set which lasted for 31 minutes.
In the second set, which lasted for 44 minutes, Somdev double faulted once but won two of the four break point chances.
Somdev took another 35 minutes to wrap up the match as he broke the German twice and also had a better second serve winning percentage then Phau in the third set.
The right-handed Somdev missed most of the tennis season in 2012 due to a shoulder injury that has seen him slip to 551 in the world. He had reached a career-high singles ranking of 62 in July 2011 after turning pro in 2008.
Somdev would be hoping to do one better than reaching the second round in a Grand Slam, having made the same stage at the US Open in 2009 and Wimbledon in 2011.
Yuki Bhambri, the only other Indian in the singles competition at the Australian Open, lost in the first round of the qualifying event over the weekend.