New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS): India's top tennis star Somdev Devvarman said here Tuesday that it is high time India had another singles player in the world's top-100.
Somdev said at 26, he was not an "up and coming guy any more" and agreed with Davis Cup captain S.P. Misra's view that Vishnu Vardhan, Sanam Singh and former junior world No.1 Yuki Bhambri should form the core of India's future singles players.
"It is no brainer that we need a guy among the top-100. Tennis is a global sport and it is not like cricket, which is played by just 10 countries. We can never have four-five players among top-20 like France or Spain, but we can train with them and learn a lot of things," Somdev told reporters on his return from Tokyo after India's 1-4 defeat by Japan in the Davis Cup World Group play-off.
Somdev was impressed with Vishnu Vardhan, who went down figting against Japan's top ranked Kei Nishikori in his debut match. Vardhan was ranked 400 places below the Japanese.
Somdev, however, feels that it is too early to predict that India have got a second specialist singles player for the Davis Cup.
"He (Vishnu) has received a lot of praise, the guy rose to the occasion. It's not easy to play against the guy he played. There is a difference of 400 places. He did not look like 400 places behind. However, potential is something and getting result day in and out is something else. Most of us are guilty of judging people on one match. You have to be consistent," said Somdev, who is here to receive the Arjuna Award from the sports minister.
On the award, Somdev said: "It's a very nice honour, I am happy I got it. Good to have appreciation of the sports ministry and the public."
Somdev also hoped that India would soon be back in the World Group in Davis Cup. India were relegated to Asia/Oceania Zone after the loss in Tokyo.
"It's sport. Sometimes underdogs win and favourites lose. It's unpredictable and what matters is what's on court and not on paper. And we must appreciate that Japan played well and it's a wonderful accomplishment for them and the Asian tennis," Somdev said. "We will play again in group, and hopefully we will be back in the World Group soon."
Somdev blamed too much tennis for his shoulder strain that forced him to skip the reverse singles against Japan.
"It's not a major problem, just a strain. I had an MRI, there is no tear, and I have been advised two weeks' rest. It's because of overuse, I don't want to rush in. I have been playing a lot of tennis since last year. The first time I realised the after-effects in April this year," he said.
Asked how the season has been for him, Somdev said: "Realisticaly, it was an average year, although the statistics say it's my best year. I have done well in bigger tournaments and not in other tournaments. Overall it's a good year. I am only 26 and and looking forward to play 5-6 more years."
Asked whether the Indian system can throw up good players, the Texas-based Somdev said:
"It is definitely improving. We can see the benefits of having the Commonwealth Games in the capital. The government is trying to create facilities, not just for tennis but for other sports as well. Today the game is more accessible and the sport is getting more popular. To create champions is not easy, all you can do is create opportunities."
When pointed out that both Yuki and he himself are products of American system, Somdev said: "I got my basics here, spent 19 years. It's a global sport, played by over 200 countries, unlike cricket. It's very competitive. Even the Americans go and train in Europe, they learn technique."