Purav Raja spoke to ITD after the finals run at the ATP Challenger in Biel, Switzerland. Overall results from the tourney are listed below
ATP Biel Challenger 80, Switzerland
[R1] Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) / Pura Raja (IND) d. Zhe Li (CHN) / Go Soeda (JPN) 64 64
[QF] Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) / Pura Raja (IND) d. (4) Hunter Resse (USA) / Sam Verbeek (NED) 63 64
[SF] Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) / Pura Raja (IND) d. Dan Added (FRA) / Michail Pervolarakis (GRE) 61 64
[F] Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) / Purav Raja (IND) l. (1) Pierre-Hughes Herbert (FRA) / Albano Oliverti ( FRA) 36 46
Thoughts on the match?
I thought the level was really high. We played a good match today. Albano is probably one of the best servers in the world and I don’t need to tell you about Herbert’s career, I mean it’s pretty remarkable that he has won so many grand slams, so many tournaments and he still comes out and plays like this in 80k challengers. Absolutely phenomenal.
I honestly think it’s one of the higher level matches that we’ve played all year and it just happened that we got broken twice at key moments and then the match kind of slipped away. This is tennis and it’s time to accept and get better, and move on.
Given the calibre of the opponents, was there any game plan coming in?
The game plan was to try and make as many returns and balls as possible because we knew once we make more balls, they’ll be under more pressure but it was very difficult because they were serving and returning so well. As the rallies went on, we favoured ourselves but they won a few hands points and played a couple of points through their legs. They hit return winners too.
Every time we thought we had a semi chance, they came out with all the goods.
Thoughts on your partnership with Ramkumar Ramanathan and his stellar doubles run?
He is so talented and gifted. He played at such a high level of doubles today and that is remarkable for a singles player to do that. If we sharpen up a few things and get better as a team, we can do some damage on the tour.
It’s obviously tough with the scheduling with singles being his first priority. It’s pretty tough to get that balance going but every time we play, it seems to click and we have a great camaraderie as well. We are very close to each other and we get along really well.
He is definitely a deserved top-50 ATP Doubles player.
On your personal level, how are you striking the balance between personal life, media responsibilities and tennis?
More than the media, it’s about managing the time with family as we now have a daughter.
With the media role, it’s about committing to 6-8 weeks a year. It’s from Bombay. Luckily. So I was able to do it in the lockdown. So luckily I chose this path which I enjoy and luckily ok at it.
I can play 30 weeks a year and that would be my limit. I am going to play the right weeks and hopefully that will click. My body is getting older and with experience, I know what to play and I should be good enough to do it in 30 weeks.
Sania Mirza is playing her final year. Your thoughts.
Even an hour would not be enough to talk about Sania, so I will keep it short. Absolutely, Absolutely incredible. She is the best sports woman that India has ever had.
Schedule for the next few weeks?
The challenger in Lugano, and then I’m home for a week and then we’ll play in Mexico together.
Photos from the finals