22-yr old Manish Sureshkumar was the lone player to win a title in this 3-week leg of Men`s future. ITD member Prasenjit K Basu spoke to Manish during and after the tourneys to get his thoughts on the performance. 

Talk about your title run in Indore. What do you think worked well? 

What helped me a lot in Indore was the elevation. I felt there was more power and precision in my serve, which gained me a lot of free points, and I was very focused on my game. Things really came together in Indore. 

(Follow-up: It had been awhile since the title in SL)

I hadn’t been able to repeat that run to a title in Sri Lanka, so it felt good to win a Futures after a long time. 

Your matches against Philip Sekulic. 2 wins and 1 loss. Can you talk through the three matches?

Sekulic really played well in Delhi (2nd week). At Indore (1st week final), I was playing at a very good level, and I couldn’t serve with as much power and consistency in Delhi as in Indore.

Author`s note: Although Manish didn’t mention it, I saw him use an ice-pack on his right shoulder before the match; the soreness must have affected his serve in Delhi, although he is too classy to mention it.  

I was more prepared for the 3rd match (in Gurugram) because I knew exactly his gamestyle and what he does to win points. So I went into the match with clarity on what to do to win points and I am glad that I was able to execute it perfectly.

In your previous interviews, you mentioned working hard on building strength and packing more power into your game. How has the progress been so far? 

Yes I’ve spent a lot of time at the Madrid Tennis Federation, focusing on building strength and adding power to my game. Digvijay Singh Pratap was also there. I think I’m making steady progress through these efforts, although the pandemic and restrictions surrounding it were a setback. It was difficult to stay motivated when there was no prospect of tournaments and little scope to even practice. 

You played for the first time in European clay over the last two months. How has the experience been? Any learnings / key takeaways. 

It was challenging. In the beginning, it was tough but got better over time. Even though i was not winning matches there, I knew it was progress. I had to train very hard and all my peers were working really hard and willing to put in the extra effort. 

I understand that the level of tennis is very high in Europe. Every match is tough irrespective of the rankings, you need to work hard to earn your points. This was a very good learning experience and I will keep working on the aspects that I picked up there. 

If you have to critically review your game – what would be the areas where you feel you would need to improve in the long term to go up further?

I need to play aggressively and that’s how I can make it to the top. I am working on it with the coaches in India and Spain. It is not an easy change to make. I am focusing on it everyday and want to do it in most of my matches. 

Coach Suresh and Balaji have been influential in your journey – what is your plan as a team for the next year in terms of tournaments to play in and the areas of your game to improve on?

We plan to play a lot of tournaments next year. We will also work on my serve and work on hitting the spots better. The futures in India have been very helpful for all of us Indians to make some points and hopefully we will have more of them. 

What is your plan for the rest of the year?

 I might try to train a little bit for two weeks and I am looking to play the futures in Doha right after the Tennis Premier League, but I am not sure about that yet. I think in December Prajnesh is going to be in Chennai so I’ll try to practice with him as much as possible. I’ll try to work on my game and get better during this time.

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