“Making my first final feels great, especially considering that I was not even planning to play” – Digvijay Singh

Digvijay Singh had his maiden ITF final at Vietnam and spoke to ITD after the match on his run and on his journey so far. Details below. 

At M15 Tay Ninh, Vietnam

[R1] Digvijay Pratap Singh (IND,932) d. Ji Hoon Son (KOR,1165) 75 64
[R2] Digvijay Pratap Singh (IND,932) d. (3) Dominik Palan (CZE,630) 76(2) 64
[QF] Digvijay Pratap Singh (IND,932) d. (WC) Ha Minh Duc Vu (VIE,NR) 60 62
[SF] Digvijay Pratap Singh (IND,932) d. (7) Tsung-Hao Huang (TPE,872) 64 75
[F] Digvijay Pratap Singh (IND,932) l. (1) Nam Hoang Ly (VIE,434) 64 57 46

Thoughts on the final. You had several chances to break and finish off the match.

First of all, I was completely drained off from yesterday`s match. At the start of the 2nd set in the finals, I felt a bit of cramps which stopped me from serving at full tilt. I still had chances. I did what I could do best at that moment. I should have converted some of them. I missed quite a few easy balls. 

At 5-5 in the second set, I was ahead 0-40 up and that was a crucial miss. Again in the 3rd set, leading 3-1 and 0-40 up – I should have been more focused and converted it. Sometimes you learn from these mistakes as well. 

What was the game plan coming in? Anything that you could have done differently? 

I know Ly Hoang Nam well as we had trained together in Madrid a few times. So I know what he is capable of and where he lacks. My plan was to play big and win as many free points as possible which unfortunately was not the case as I served pretty bad. The plan was to not give him pace, open the angles and look for the easy ball. 

I did not want to get into a long match with him but he made me struggle. The match changed a lot after the pause in the 3rd set due to the heat rule. After the resumption, I was way too stiff and did not play freely. That did not help me. My opponent was playing fresh after that, running a lot. 

I am not sure if I could have done anything differently as I was struggling a lot physically. Whenever I was winning the points, I was retrospecting in terms of what I was doing and so I just kept doing the same. 

Talk about your win over ATP 630 Dominik Palan. He had several finals and titles in futures all over the world.

Dominik is one of my closest friends. We travel and practice together a lot. Even at the Bangalore Challenger, we came together and trained together. We practice almost every day when we are at the tournament. 

We pull each other as well from practice on who wins today and so on. So after playing so many sessions together, we knew exactly what it is going to be like. I knew that he was playing really well. I had to stay focused and play my A game to have a chance. 

He started off by having chances to break me in my first two service games but I served really well – I think I had 90% first serves and 89% first serves in the 1st and the 2nd sets respectively. This made a huge difference. And on the other hand, on the important moments, Dominik got a bit nervous and I took full advantage of. 

Overall it was a big serving match and seized the opportunities that came my way. 

Dominic Palan and Digvijay Singh – Best friends on tour

Thoughts on the maiden final on the ITF Pro Circuit. 

Last week I had lost in the first round. So I came all the way from Algeria to couple of days in Delhi and then to Vietnam. In the first week, all the Indians who came from Algeria for this tourney, we struggled with the heat and the humidity. I just wanted to come back to India after losing early in the first week. 

I felt burnt out and I was almost getting my tickets done with Eshaque Iqbal but then decided against it and wanted to give it one more try. I thought of giving it a try since I am here anyway and nothing to lose even if I lose in the first round. Then I started to practice and acclimate myself to the conditions better. 

Then suddenly I started to play well and felt very comfortable on the court. I knew what exactly I was doing and this run of confidence/form took me to the finals. Making my first finals feels great, especially considering that I was not even planning to play this week. 

This was a big learning experience in the sense that I should not step back and just keep going. I played very good tennis this week and so I am happy from that perspective. 

Talk about 2022 – You had 4 Quarter final finishes and a final now. Do you feel you have started to break out in futures now? 

I did a very good pre-season at the Federation in Madrid. I pushed myself to the limits physically even though I got drained out today. That was the main key reason. Additionally, I worked a lot on my consistency. I just used to play short points and lacked on the long points but now I have belief in myself in playing the longer points. I feel more composed on the court now. 

The 2 Indian Quarter finals – against Arjun Kadhe and Manish Sureshkumar. I had my chances and lost in close matches. I felt I am almost there at that level and just need to make few tweaks to my game. 

In Algeria – it was my 2nd time there. I had been there earlier in 2018 for an ITF Junior event but it was in a different city. The tournament was organised very well. It was on clay courts. I was playing decently. I had chances in the first week where I missed out on set point. In the second set, I played against a French player who was the same age as me and ex-top 300 player – he was too good for me on that day. 

Before this year – since 2019, you were mostly playing ITF Qualies in Futures but now you are a legit contender. What has changed from then in your game?

I used to lack lot of match practice – I have not played many tournaments. I had a feet issue – I have an extra bone which bothers me time to time. I was advise to get it operated but somehow we fixed it without an operation. 

2022 is the first year where I am trying to compete in a lot of tournaments. Last year, I played the Nationals in Spain and got wins against ATP Top-300 and top-400 players and got the confidence from there. 

For me the big change also is confidence. I used to play Qualies earlier and then used to black out at times and think what is happening. I was not confident. I was lacking a lot in terms of match play. 

You had induction into the Davis Cup team as well.

It was the best thing to happen to me in 2022. I was the one who took the most out of the tie. I have been practicing with Yuki Bhambri whenever he is in Delhi and this was a good experience to be with the other lads in the team. I have been pushing myself every year to be a part of the team. It was a great learning experience and I am pushing myself to be a part of the Indian Davis Cup team on a regular basis now. 

You are based in Madrid. Talk about the team behind you in Madrid and since how long have you been there?

I went to Spain for the first time in 2014 after winning the U14 Fennesta Nationals. I went for 3 weeks and it was sponsored by the Haryana Government. The next year, I tried going there for 3 months but then I had a visa problem and I came back. 

After that, me and my family decided that I have to spend a couple of years there. Ever since 2016, I have been training there. I have a legal guardian named Javier Sansierra who has been helping me with all the logistics. He is my family now. 

My coaches Javi Perez on left and Luis Zapata on right
My fitness trainer Borja Carabias

I have been working with them for the past 4 years. I did consider going to another academy for a week or two, say in Alicante, but I did not feel good. My team knows me inside and out, they are very important to me. Being in Madrid for the last 7 years now, I don’t even think of going to any other place.

What is your base in India?

I am part of the National Tennis Center (NTC) under Coach Zeeshan Ali sir. I grew up playing tennis in Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA) and with NTC now. Whenever Yuki and I are in Delhi, I try to fix up time with him to practice. 

How did you get into Tennis?

My dad used to follow Tennis a lot. He decided to put me into it one day and after a couple of years, he asked me to choose if I like the sport or not – its your call. Our beginnings were at CLTA. 

When did you realise you were good at it?

In my early 12s, 13s and 14s – I did not play much Tennis. I just used to play Tourneys that would happen at CLTA, win them where possible and thats it. Then I went to play the U14 Fennesta Nationals and won it without losing a set. That is when I realised that this is my calling. 

Talk about your title wins in Hong Kong and Qatar at ITF Juniors

I played very good tennis both the weeks. I liked playing in both the locations. I really like Qatar and was there even end of last year. It has very good infrastructure and very well organised, so I never miss an opportunity to play there. 

A lot has changed since then. Whenever I look back – I wonder what kind of Tennis I used to play back then and what type of Tennis I am playing now. 

You had a few finals in Malaysia and Thailand as well

I had 2 finals in Malaysia and 1 final in Thailand. I remember every match used to be about 2.5 hrs and very hot and humid. However I loved playing those long matches as I was very fit from the start where as I used to struggle with the heat. I loved that grind. Unfortunately all that time that I reached the finals, I used to play very bad tennis. Unfortunately, I did not win a single title in SE Asia apart from Hong Kong. 

Digvijay Singh – ITF Grade 2 final in Thailand

Was College Tennis ever in your mind – what made you turn pro?

It was in my mind but I never gave it a second thought in terms of not turning pro. My family has been supportive throughout. My Uncle funds my Tennis and he is making a huge effort for me. 

They are like – give it your best, we are there for you. Till whenever we can help, we will be there. My dad is a policeman – there is no chance he can fund my tennis with his income. 

So never thought of College Tennis that seriously. 

In terms of other sponsors, Adidas supports me with apparel sponsorship. 

How do you assess your game – your strengths and the areas you need to improve

I have a big serve and try to play aggressively. I need to improve a lot on my net game. Once I improve, I will be able to convert more of those points. 

Rapid fire

What do you do in your free time?Spending time with friends and then if on vacation, I spend time with family as I rarely get to see them. 
Dream opponent and why?Novak Djokovic. I just want to see how good he is and I would love to be in front of him and be in front it. 
Favorite FoodI liked Indian food and relish Paneer dishes
Favorite SurfaceHard court
Favorite TournamentI like the Australian Open season tourneys. Its a bit special to me. I could not go for the Australian open juniors due to injury but I lived there with my uncle 
Favorite MovieDrive to Survive
Favorite Sport (Non-Tennis)F1
The song that’s been on loop for you recentlyPunjabi song Sidhu Moosewala – Jatt da Muqabla

Spanish song Yonaguni by Bad bunny
Favorite travel destination and why?Spain and would also love to go Ibiza someday
Best win of your careerMadrid national finals against Mariano Kestelboim
A loss that hurt you the mostFennesta National finals – That loss still gives me nightmares
Best friend on tourFrom the Indian Tennis, I have my own friends from North India. From outside, it is Dominik Palak. 
Languages you speakEnglish, Hindi, Punjabi, Haryanvi and Spanish
Favourite Spanish DishPaella
Most adventurous travel experience so farNot sure about adventurous but annoying was – We arrived to Algerian airport. Then we were looking at buying a ticket to the destination but there were no tickets available for a week. So we had no option but to take a taxi. Nobody was speaking English there. So we all rented a car and all 5-6 of us with our bags had to cramp into one vehicle and it was a tough journey.
None of us will forget it. 
Rapid fire

Indian based in the Alps region. Works for an IT firm during the weekdays und auch lernt Deutsch. On the weekends, he can be traced somewhere in the Mountains or on backpacker trips. Is a Social Worker / Activist with a deeper interest for Indian / Swiss tennis from the past year.

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