Artem Sitak from New Zealand has been one of Divij Sharan’s most successful partners over the last 2 years. They share a special bond both on and off the court. 

Balaram Dhulipala, ITD member from Melbourne, caught up with Artem Sitak to get his thoughts on the partnership, their win today, his visit to India and the plan for this season. 

Thoughts on the match today

It was a quality match from us. We started well on serve and broke them at around 3-3. However, we got broken in the second set. 

We knew they were very good returners as they are good singles players, so we knew that could happen. We stayed strong on the return games as we knew we could come back with break if we connected few good returns which happened at 3-5 when they were serving for the second set. 

We rode on that momentum and the last 15 mins were flawless from us. We made all the volleys, all the returns and all the poaches. Very solid until we finished the match at 7-5. 

You had a tough service game while serving for the first set. 

It was 15-40 and then we ended up having a very long game. I thought to myself on that set point that I should go big here for one time on my first serve and glad it happened with the serve to the T. 

Thoughts on your next round

We know both the possible opponents really well, played them a couple of times last year and so we would be ready for the match. 

You have been partnering Divij since mid-2018 and have been one of Divij’s most successful partners. What makes your partnership click?

He is my most successful partner. We made the Wimbledon Quarters in 2018. We had a very solid 2018 – we played for 5 months together and racked up a lot of points. 

Even last year, we played a couple of tourneys together and we had solid results. This year, hopefully we will go the full year. We like each other both on and off the court. The energy that we bring to the court is really good. It is exactly what I need and what he needs from me as well. 

Our games just combine really well. We are very solid at the net when we get there. I think we can do really well together if we keep working and have the same vision – which we do and stick to the whole year. 

You have been in India recently for the marriage of Divij. How was your experience in India in general.

The experience in India for Divij’s marriage was really great. My wife was very keen to go. We were there for a week. The 2-day celebrations were unbelievable, especially the second day when Divij got on the horse, that was really great. Divij dancing around on the horse was a great sight and the real highlight!! I am really glad that I made it there. 

On a funny note, there were a lot of Indian Tennis players there and they danced on the stage on the first day without inviting me, which was very disappointing because I would have done it for sure! They thought I was not going to do it but I was all in on that!

It was a great occasion. Samantha Murray Sharan was here, playing the qualifying rounds and hopefully she will stick around till the end of the tourney. 

You had a good support in the crowd today. Thoughts on this. 

We always get good crowd support here. I had a lot of friends coming in and cheering too and they were pretty loud. This is not to say a scale when a big player like Nadal is playing but compared to some other events where we don’t get as much support, this is always special to have a lot of friends and family. I definitely take energy from that and do better when that happens. 

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