French Open: It’s going to be a heck of an effort for Nagal, Bopanna, says Devvarman

New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) Rohan Bopanna and Sumit Nagal are currently two of the big tennis stars in India. Ahead of the upcoming French Open, former tennis star Somdev Devvarman talked about their chances in the second Grand Slam of the season in an exclusive conversation with IANS.

Sumit Nagal will be playing against World Number 18 Karen Khachnanov in the first round at Roland Garros on Sunday and it will be a challenging match for the 26-year-old Indian, said Somdev Devvarman.

“Very tough first round, to play a top-20 seed, not easy. Somebody who’s, you know, made quarters comfortably, made semis at other Slams. He’s been one of the consistent performers if you look at his ranking over the last five or six years. Khachanov is a tough nut. Sumit, I feel like he was playing really well at the start of the season, did well in Monte Carlo, and played a tough match.

“Since then, he’s kind of finding form. He’s pretty close now, played a good match against (Sebastian) Baez this week, and lost a tight one in the opening round in Geneva. So Sumit’s playing well. I just think that he kind of has to take it to Khachanov a little bit. Khachanov is a very aggressive player. He likes to take it off the bounce on both sides, can attack really well on both sides, big guy, not the greatest mover,” said Devvarman who had reached the second round at the French Open in 2013.

He said Nagal will have to be at his best against Khachanov.

“Sumit, really has to play his best clay-court tennis, you know, move Khachanov side to side, not give him a whole lot of errors, and be ready to work because it’s going to take a heck of an effort, but it’s possible for him to beat Kachanov,” said Devvarman, the former India number one, told IANS on Friday.

Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden, on the other hand, won the Miami Open in March but have struggled on clay courts since, not progressing past the Round of 16 at Monte Carlo, Madrid, and Italy.

The Roland-Garros is the second Grand Slam of the season and is also hailed as the mecca of clay courts.

“If you look back at last year as well, Roland Garros, they lost the first round to (Sadio) Doumbia and (Fabien) Reboul. Clay is not their best surface. I think that is something that we all know but obviously, they can do well on clay. They have done well on clay before. Sometimes, you know with the top teams, the doubles tour is incredibly competitive.

“There are so many teams, you’ll see the number ones in doubles change quite often, you know, whether it’s Rajiv Ram, Joe Salisbury or Austin Krajicek or, you know, between Rohan and Ebden, it’s kind of happened too. So you’ll see a lot of changes in the doubles because of how close everybody is in the rankings in the top 10. So, I think you just have to be a little patient,” said Devvarman, who enjoyed a highest-ever ranking of No 62 on July 25, 2011.

“Obviously, the important thing is to acknowledge that Rohan is having the golden period of his career. And it’s something that we didn’t expect, you know, a year ago, we were talking about his retirement. He was talking about his retirement. Now he’s here, world No.1, just won a major. I’m not getting negative yet. I still think they have got good tennis in them,” concluded Devvarman.

Somdev Devvarman is the expert panelist on Sony Sports Network’s studio show Extraaa Serve for Roland Garros 2024.



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