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Divij Sharan is Asia’s top-ranked doubles player

Press Trust of India

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Divij Sharan
Photo: Twitter @divijsharan

New Delhi: Divij Sharan has become not only India’s number one but also the top-ranked Asian in the ATP doubles list with a recent three-place jump that took him to number 42 in the world.

All the 41 players above him are pre-dominantly from Europe, USA and a few from South American countries like Brazil and Argentina.

“It feels great to reach this milestone. It’s something that will stay with me for the rest of my life,” Divij told PTI.

With an eye on Tokyo Olympics, the left-handed player from Delhi joined forces with compatriot Rohan Bopanna and began the partnership with a bang, winning the Tata Open Maharashtra.

However, the partnership didn’t last long as following a string of poor results, their rankings in 40s did not allow them to enter bigger tournaments as a team.

Consequently, Divij was forced to switch partners throughout the season.

In 28 tournaments played this year, Divij paired with 10 different partners, getting decent results with Brazil’s Marcelo Demoliner, with whom he reached the final of the BMW Open in Munich. He also won the St Petersburg Open with Slovakia’s Igor Zelenay.

“It’s true I have played with different partners but I have had some consistent partnerships in the last 52 weeks with Artem, Rohan and Marcelo. It’s been different dynamics in all these partnerships but I have tried to focus on my game and how best I can contribute to the team,” said Divij, an employee of the Indian Oil.

Divij said he and Bopanna are coming back together on the Tour.

“Rohan and I had to split because we were not getting into the bigger tournaments together. We are both looking forward to playing with each other at the Olympics. We will try to play some tournaments together leading up to the Games. In fact we are going to play together at the Stockholm Open next week.”

Both Divij and Bopanna, who is ranked 44, are beneficiaries of the government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).

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Another feather on cap: Roger Federer to play 1,500th match at Basel Open

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Fedrer

Basel: Roger Federer will check off another landmark on Monday when he starts his bid for a 10th Basel title by playing the 1,500th match of his career.

The 38-year-old begins his bid for his 103rd title against German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has beaten the German twice — including at Indian Wells last March.

“My preparation had to be a little faster than usual since I have to start Monday,” said Federer ahead of the Swiss Indoors tournament, which he first attended as a ballboy.

“I’ve already practiced Friday and Saturday in Basel. I hope to really start strong and have a great indoor season.” Federer, who has made the Basel final on all of his last 12 visits, owns ATP titles this season in Dubai, Miami and Halle.

Despite not adding to his tally of majors, he still stands at 47-8 for the year, a record bettered only by eternal rival Rafael Nadal, whose triumphs at Roland Garros and the US Open have taken the Spaniard to 19 Grand Slams.

Federer made the final at Wimbledon in July where he had two match points before losing to Novak Djokovic in a five-set epic.

He revealed on Sunday that his philosophy about those losses has become “forget them and move on”.

However, he added: “I try to keep the highest possible level always. Sometimes it’s the opponent, sometimes it’s your own mind or game that goes off the boil.

“And, of course, you work with the right work ethic in practice, with the right concentration and everything.

“Only a few (matches this season) stand out to me that maybe I could have won that I didn’t.

“If I look back at my whole career I’ve had a lot of matches that I could have won that I lost. But also I won much more than I should have or could have.”

After Basel, Federer is likely to make his usual last-minute decision on whether to carry on for the Paris Masters, the concluding Masters 1000 event of the season which starts a week on Monday.

He has already qualified for the ATP Finals in London from November 10 in what will be his 17th appearance at the money-spinning season finale.

“It’s been a solid season. It started well for me. I hope to pick it up for the year-end,” he added.

Meanwhile, Federer briefly paused his preparation for Basel to send best wishes to newly-married rival Nadal.

Explaining that he was not part of the festivities, the father of four said: “I was not invited by Rafa, but I had not expected to be.

“I congratulated him and hope he had the best day of his life.” Nadal and longtime girlfriend Xisca Perello were married on Saturday on their home island of Mallorca.

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Rafael Nadal marries long-time partner Perello

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Madrid: Rafael Nadal married his partner of 14 years, Xisca Perello, at a castle in Mallorca.

Nadal, the 19-time grand slam champion, tied the knot with 31-year-old Perello at La Fortaleza, with a reported 350 guests invited to a private ceremony.

Juan Carlos I, the king of Spain from 1975 to 2014, was believed to be among those in attendance while the Michelin-star chef, Quique Dacosta, was reportedly in charge of catering.

Nadal, 33, met his wife through his younger sister Maribel, a childhood friend of Perello.

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Owe my long career to Navratilova, says Leander Paes

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Leander Paes

Mumbai: Veteran Leander Paes says if he is still able to withstand the rigours of the physically demanding ATP tour, the credit goes to legendary Martina Navratilova, who transformed him into a fitness freak.

Navratilova, winner of an incredible 59 Grand Slam titles including 18 singles, teamed up with Paes in the latter part of her astonishing career.

The two of her 10 mixed doubles Grand Slam trophies — Wimbledon and Australian Open in 2003 — came with Paes. She was the oldest player on Tour and was active when she was nearing 50.

“Navratilova taught us on how physical fitness was a pre-requisite. Navaratilova taught me importance of physical fitness and that is the reason I had such a long career,” said Paes, who is 46.

“She epitomises perseverance and the re-invention that an athlete can go through. Navratilova took fitness and gym work to a new level. To have played with Navratilova over three years and to being that close to her over time has helped me in my career, that at 46 I keep re-inventing myself, my training methods, my diets and my fitness.”

Paes also had a successful pairing with Swiss great Martina Hingis and he had words of praise for her also.

“Hingis taught me a lot about technique. Because I don’t consider myself a very talented tennis player, I am more of an athlete. I felt that playing with Hingis — her ground strokes, technique, volley or just technique itself was phenomenal. Playing with her I used to practice hours and hours and the matches were just extension of practice sessions,” he said.

Talking about global tennis icon Roger Federer, Paes said it is amazing to see how the Swiss has re-invented himself to keep winning grand-slams.

“This year Australian Open is going to be unique. Roger Federer just announced that he will play the Olympics in 2020. I think for tennis fans around the world it is fantastic because there is always a question whether he is going to continue or not (playing),” Paes said here.

He was speaking after Tennis Australia and Sony Pictures India Private Limited announced a three-year extension of their broadcast relationship at the Australian Open 2020 media launch.

Paes said that he has not decided on his goals for 2020.

“I would find out in the next couple of days as to what my goals in 2020 are. For me I play for trophies (and) they are memories. Medals and trophies are memories that never go. For me to rewrite the history books, is what I have lived for. I had a very blessed career, so if I have another year in it… I get to another Olympics (it would be) wonderful, if I don’t still (it would be) wonderful,” he said.

In the over 20 minute conversation, Paes was asked about how does he approach an Olympic year, and he avoided giving a direct reply.

“You know the Olympics is a away. I was born for the Olympics. Everything I dreamt for and wished to play for off-late is to play for our people.

“(If I am approached to play for our country), rest assured I will be there. As far as that goes, I have got the World Record for most number of Olympics played but I think an eighth Olympics would be India’s record to actually make sure that we seal that record to play eight Olympics on the trot,” he said.

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