US Open: Somdev hopes to play a competitive match against Murray (Preview)

August 28th, 2011 - 8:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Somdev Devvarman New York, Aug 28 (IANS) India’s No.1 singles player Somdev Devvarman is looking forward to a “competitive” match against World No.4 Andy Murray in the opening round even as the recent good form of doubles experts Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have raised hopes at the US Open Tennis Championships, beginning Monday.

Somdev, ranked 64th, could not have had a tougher draw but says he is excited for the square-off.

“I’m sort of excited. I haven’t played Andy before and I’m looking forward to playing a good, competitive match,” Somdev told IANS.

“Like any other match, I will go in well prepared, focused and play my best out there. Nerves only last for the first few games, after that it’s like playing any other opponent.”

The 26-year-old has beaten higher-ranked players like Serb Janko Tipseravic (Serbia), Milos Raonic (Canada), Tommy Robredo (Spain) and Xavier Malisse (Belgium) this year while also losing to some of the top-10 players including Spaniard Rafael Nadal, Swiss Roger Federer, Spain’s David Ferrer and American Mardy Fish.

He came close to winning his first Tour title at the South African Open in February, but was beaten in the final by home favourite and World No.110 Kevin Anderson over three sets.

Even though Somdev has had an ordinary outing in the tune-up to the championships, having made early exits from the tournaments at Atlanta, Los Angles, Washington, and Cincinnati, the Indian feels he is prepared for the challenge.

“I’m pretty happy the way the hard court season has gone. I played a few tournaments this summer, then took a week off to work on my game and fitness to be well prepared for the Open,” he said.

“I hope to play well in the tournament. New York is not really home but I do have a lot of friends here. It’s always nice to play knowing that there are some people in the crowd cheering for you.”

In the men’s doubles, Paes and Bhupathi have struck form at the right time. The two last week won the Cincinnati Masters together after 10 years and their third title after Sony Ericsson Open and Chennai Open this year.

Most importantly, the “Indian Express” in the semi-finals shocked defending champions and World No.1 Mark and Bob Bryans for their first win over the twins in three meetings. The Indians had lost to them in the Australian Open and AEGON Championships finals.

“It’s a great feeling to come back and win in the summer. We didn’t have so much rhythm in Europe, but we managed to put it together this week. We’ve beaten some really big teams and are playing well. For us, it’s a big confidence booster for the US Open, but we still have a lot of work to do there,” Bhupathi had said after the win.

Also boosting India’s doubles chances will be Rohan Bopanna who along with Pakistani partner Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi shot into the reckoning by making their maiden Grand Slam final here last year. The two have not had an impressive run-up to the tournament, but will be among the contenders.

Meanwhile, India’s top woman singles player Sania Mirza, ranked 63, has drawn her former doubles partner and World No. 24 Shahar Peer of Israel in the first round. The Hyderabadi did not have an ideal tune-up to the Flushing Meadows, failing to get past her first round matches and qualify in top-graded tournaments.

This year she has won only nine matches in 20 tournaments, four of these in the last one month.

However, the Indian holds an upper hand over the Israeli, leading 4-1 head-to-head. The two last met last in 2009 at Osaka, where Sania rallied to win in three sets.

In the doubles, Sania has had a successful pairing with Elena Vesnina of Russia. The two reached the French Open final this year and will be looking to take it further on the hardcourts here.

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