Somdev's Sanam, Mission 2018, Maradona's Showboating and Davis Cup Teams

Linus Fernandes@mktimeforsportsAnalyst IINovember 24, 2010

Somdev Devvarman: Rich haul at Asian Games
Somdev Devvarman: Rich haul at Asian GamesDaniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Somdev Devvarman carries the hopes of a billion on his lean, sinewy frame. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are aging warriors. They will soon be gone.

But Somdev is undaunted at the prospect of stepping into the boots of these stalwarts. He has etched his mark in the Davis Cup. The Guangzhou Asian Games saw him pick up a rich haul of three medals, two gold in singles and men’s doubles and a bronze in the team event. His singles gold at the CWG pales in comparison. The clinical manner in which the Indian demolished Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-1, 6-2 augurs well for India’s Davis Cup aspirations.

 As an added bonus, India have discovered a new hero. Sanam Singh partnered Somdev to gilt at the Asiad. Singh is a name less known among the current crop of Indian tennis players. Karan Rastogi and Yuki Bhambri have hogged the limelight. But this student at the University of Virginia is intent on chasing the footsteps of his illustrious mentor , Devvarman. Sanam is studying International Affairs on a four-year full tennis scholarship.He has emulated his senior—succeeding in being ranked No. 1 nationally in singles. He made the trip to Russia for India’s Davis Cup tie at the beginning of the year and is a real prospect to raise the flag in many more team engagements.

Could it be that India’s Davis Cup hopes are in secure hands for the next decade? The near future looks promising. Somdev’s sanam (sweetheart) is yellow.

The US and Australia may gripe about not having any Grand Slam champions in the pipeline. But we Indians are more realistic about our expectations. Keep us in the World Group in Davis Cup and we’re satisfied. A few medals at the Olympics, CommonWealth and Asian games and we’re overjoyed.

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Actually, no. We have been spoilt rotten by Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. Leander’s 12 Slams and Mahesh’s 11 are phenomenal numbers. Now we expect nothing less from our doubles players—be it a Rohan Bopanna or a Sania Mirza. Bopanna came close, losing in the 2010 US Open finals partnering Qureishi. Sania has one mixed doubles Slam with Bhupathi to her credit at the 2009 Australian Open.

The all important question is: When will a singles Grand Slam winner emerge from India? Perhaps, Apollo Tyres’ Mission 2018 has the answers. The tie-up between the rubber giant and Mahesh seeks to unearth a Grand Slam champion for India by the year 2018.Under its auspices, kids aged 12-15 train at the Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academy Elite in Bangalore.

The appearance of the ‘Hand Of God’ at the World Tour Finals had Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal in a tizzy. Maradona’s Argentine side may have capitulated in the World Cup but the legend still has his share of admirers.

Reactions to an encounter—with arguably the greatest footballer ever—ranged from Djokovic’s levity— “He’s actually doing coaching, you didn’t know that? We’re working on some specifics, like how to play with hands, high balls!"—,to Federer’s pleasure—“I’m a big soccer fan. It’s been a pleasure to meet him. I heard he’s a big tennis fan, a big fan of mine. I think he was almost more excited to meet me than I was to meet him, and I was very excited. It was a big pleasure."—, and Murray’s awe—“Just met maradona, legend, is he best player ever?” 

Monfils, Gilles Simon, Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement will represent France at the Davis Cup finals against Serbia.Djokovic, Viktor Troicki, Nenad Zimonjic and Janko Tipsarevic are their opponents. The Gauls will miss the services of Tsonga and Benneteau. If Monfils and Llodra can recapture their recent Paris Masters form, then the Serbs will be hard-pressed to win the title despite having the World No. 3 in their ranks.

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.

Emo Philips