By Anand Philar
Indian tennis stood exposed yet again for what it is at the Chennai Open over the past one week. No doubt, Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh made it to the doubles semi-finals, but given the quality of field, it was hardly surprising. However, the pair did raise possibilities, keeping in mind the Davis Cup.
Conversely, the premature exit of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna at the quarter-final stage raised a few eyebrows. Mahesh's statement that he would like to team up with his old partner-turned-foe Leander Paes said a lot for the state of affairs.
In the singles, Somdev, for all the pre-tournament hype and expectations, was comprehensively beaten in the second round while the likes of Prakash Amritraj, who came through the qualifying rounds, and wild card Bopanna, made first round exits. So much for Indian hopes of some strong results.
Unlike last year when he went all the way to the final, courtesy a walk-over from the man he beat this time, Rainer Schuettler of Germany, Somdev was shown his place in the World pecking order by Janko Tipsarevic who in turn lost to eventual winner Marin Cilic.
Clearly, the Indians have a long road ahead for them to make a mark in men's tennis. Somedev is already 24 and frankly, I do not expect any great improvement from the likes of Prakash (26) or Bopanna (29) who are of an age that is increasingly considered as "old" at the higher echelons of pro tennis.
Bopanna has been on tour for 10 seasons now and his best-ever ranking was 213 in July 2007 as against his current 424. Prakash is down to 200 from a high of 154 in June 2009. The statistics reveal their progress or lack of it. At the end of the day, rankings dictate a player's status and not necessarily factors such as promise or potential that in any case have to translate into results.
As for Somdev, I quite like his approach and attitude as he believes that he has it in him to break into top 100 sooner than later, but then, his second round exit at the Chennai Open cost him 35 positions and he is down to 161 as of today. That would mean that he will have to work so much more hard from here on to realize his goals.
In Image: Croatia's Marin Cilic kisses the Chennai open tennis trophy.