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‘One of my best wins’

New Delhi: Standing next to the swimming pool of the RK Khanna Stadium, before the start of the ATP Challenger here, Somdev Dev Varman made a promise to his trainer, Milos Galecic.

“I told my trainer that I will jump into the pool if I finally win a tournament here, after four years. A few minutes after I returned from the prize distribution ceremony, I did exactly that,” said a grinning Somdev, after defeating top seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov on Sunday evening.

“I have not won many singles titles and it is my first in four years. It is definitely one of my best wins… I don’t remember winning a title without dropping a set throughout the week,” he said.

Somdev spoke about the importance of having a trainer. “I am already 29 and I have to be careful in the next few years. I have started travelling with the physio… I should be able to avoid injury. Look at Leander Paes… he is 40 and still doing so well. Frankly, I have learnt the value of being a professional player,” he said.

“This victory was definitely a great one… tennis is a brutal sport. You start with 32 players and 31 go home empty handed. Only one player takes the title home. It’s not easy. So whenever I win, I enjoy… I cherish,” he said.

Winning the Challenger in Delhi, Somdev said, was like a dream come true for him. “For me it’s a lucky court, a lucky city. I won the Commonwealth Games gold here. The court suits me… the crowd loves me.

“They came to support me throughout the week. It’s a great feeling… I am grateful to all of them,” said the world’s 96th ranked player.

Somdev felt Nedovyesov was injured, but the Kazakh did not want to speak about it. “I won’t talk on that. I have no excuses to offer. Somdev played very well and won the title,” he said.

On Sunday’s final, Somdev said: “I was playing aggressively from the start. He was hitting clear winners. Things changed thereafter. He missed the first serve of the seventh game and I took advantage of that.”

Having a personal trainer, many felt, was the turning point of Somdev’s career. “This sport is all about legs,” said former Davis Cupper Jaidip Mukerjea. “Somdev has got very strong legs and he is very fit. That matters a lot in international tennis.

“I also have high hopes for Yuki Bhambri. The boy is tall and strong. But he should also get a personal trainer. Looking at Somdev, I feel boys and girls from the north-east should be encouraged to play tennis. After all, they are naturally strong. I am planning to give a proposal to the government in this regard,” said Mukerjea.