Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Sriram Balaji are in their early stages of their partnership. Surya Raj caught up with the team on their early loss at the Koblenz Open and on their thoughts on the early season so far.

Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Sriram Balaji lost in R1 to Andre Begemann and Florin Mergea with a score of 67 64 6-10.

Your thoughts on the match and any key moments to call out?

Balaji: We started the match really great. We went up a break and then they played a sharp game to break us in deuce. It went on serve till the tie-break. It was a close one in the tie-breaker that we lost. In the second set, we were up a break early but this time, we stayed sharp throughout to close it out. 

In the super tie-breaker, I could not make any return till the match point which impacted us. Otherwise, the opponents played sharp tennis through out the match. 

Jeevan: It was a good match. Balaji and I have played a lot of good matches this year. We are a little bit unlucky in the super tie-breaks. The fact that we are knocking on the door and playing such close matches with quality teams every week just tells us that we have to stay strong and positive. Things like super tie-breaks are just a matter of couple of tourneys together. Just figuring out each other’s games in those crucial moments. 

Once we figure that out, we can convert those close losses to comfortable wins hopefully. 

How do you view the playing conditions – in comparison to the other indoor hard courts that you played on? Similar?

Jeevan: It is a very good facility here. It is a multi-purpose stadium. Its a small town of about 100,000 people but we see everyday several people coming in and supporting tennis. Many volunteers for the tournament. It is great to see the tennis culture around here. This is one of the things which tells us why world class players are produced in this country. Its these small things which make a big difference in bringing up the culture of tennis in a country. 

Balaji: We have been playing in Germany from a long long time. I have been at the Alexander Waske Tennis University since 2010 where we have an indoor facility. These courts are a little bit slower compared to that. We came here on Sunday, so we had 3 days to practice and get acclimitized. So it was all good. We liked playing here as well, so we’ll see next year what happens. 

2020 has been tough so far for you guys from a scheduling point of view. Thoughts?

Jeevan: It is only middle of February. Even in March, it is only going to be the 2 masters events. So lot of players will be on the Challenger circuit then. The season is quite long and so I am quite happy with the way it has started. We are progressing with every tournament and we are playing some good matches. If we can win them, that will be great but we are on the right track. 

Just a few things like in those crucial points figuring out each other’s games and being a bit more braver and smarter on tough points – once we start doing that, results will come in. The season is long, it is just a matter of time. Both of us are feeling good about our games right now. 

Balaji: We have had some good matches so far. Our partnership is coming along well both on and off the court. We are looking forward to the season ahead. 

You both did your off-season in Chennai along with a few other players. How did it go and what were the key focus areas?

Balaji: We had decided to do the off-season together. Since December, we have been playing and training together. We had a few singles players joining in too like Sidharth Rawat, Niki Poonacha and Manish Sureshkumar. It helps everyone involved to push other others games. We hope to do similar kind of training blocks throughout the year. 

Your next set of tourneys?

We are playing next at the Challenger in Columbus, Ohio and then at Monterrey in Mexico. We are going to play a bunch of challengers in February, March and April wherever the schedule makes the most sense. We would have a fair idea by the end of April with hopefully a few of these wins going.

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