It’s all in the legs: Bhupathi
Ruhi Batra | TNN
New Delhi: It’s easy to spot the difference between a champion and a pretender. “It’s all in the legs,’’ according to M a h e s h Bhupathi. In town to announce another tie-up of Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academies with Ansal AP1, the doubles champ minced no words when it came to Indian tennis and what it lacks.
“Till the time we don’t take physical fitness seriously, we can’t compete and get the same results as others. Look at Federer and Nadal go at it for five hours. We need to reach that stage,’’ was Bhupathi’s opinion.
“In India, I can never find a good physical trainer to take on tour with me because there isn’t any. We need to realise that diet and fitness play a very important role. In fact, we sent our Elite program kids (at the centre in Bangalore) for fitness tests in Europe and we just received the reports on Monday. They are so far behind their European counterparts,’’ he added.
Bhupathi’s opinion gathers weight if one looks at Sania Mirza. She has taken huge strides when it comes to fitness and movement ever since trainer Heath Matthews has joined her entourage. Having a physical trainer helped Sania especially when it came to injury rehabilitation and she was able to keep fit even though she couldn’t hit the courts.
“Sania is playing good tennis. It was fun playing with her,’’ he said warding off queries to compare her with his other partners.
Winner of 10 Grand Slams, Bhupathi has taken on a more hands-on approach to the game and is intent on discovering champions who will take Indian tennis forward, though he doesn’t seem too perturbed with the current state of affairs.
“There was a void for years before Leander and I came on to the scene. Rohan (Bopanna) has just won a title in Dublin last week, Prakash Amritraj has just qualified for the main draw at Newport and reached the second round. Sania is obviously there. I don’t think the future is bleak,’’ he asserted.
He supported players like Sanam Singh and Somdev Dev Varman, who have opted for collegiate tennis in the US over slugging it out on Indian courts in ITF events.
“There’s nothing wrong with it. You’re playing tennis there and if you’re good, you’ll continue to play the game. If not, at least you’ll get a degree. Look at Somdev. He won the NCAA title and will turn pro next year,’’ said Bhupathi, himself a former NCAA doubles champion.
He also stresses the importance of good physical trainers in India. It is good that he taking steps to measure the physical fitness of juniors under his elite acadamy. That way they can take steps at right age to bridge that gap in levels compared to European players.