India’s Arjun Kadhe and Britain’s Jay Clarkew won the Chennai Open ATP Challenger 2023 doubles title in straight sets against Sebastian Ofner and Nino Serdarusic at the SDAT Stadium. The Indo-British pair needed only 58 minutes to beat the Austrian/ Croatian duo 6-0, 6-4 in the final. This victory marks Kadhe’s fourth doubles title at the ATP Challenger level.
Q) Your thoughts on the match in general?
Arjun Kadhe: “The first set, I feel like it went really quickly. We started well when serving and I feel like they played a slow first service game and then we were off. We didn’t do many things wrong. That always helps in a final to get a good lead and then you can be free to swing in the second set. But as you know, doubles is a very close format and I feel like it was great that we didn’t relax, we stepped on the gas and finished the job.”
Q) Even the second set was progressing on serve at first and out of nowhere you guys pulled up to win. Anything particular happened over there?
Arjun Kadhe: “I think Jay returned a really good first serve on the Deuce point. Yeah, I mean he played clutch and you know that’s the key. When you win a good first set with a big lead, then even if one or two times things fall in your place you know the match is done. So the key was the good start today.”
Q) You’ve had a good run in Challengers recently, anything in particular that is working for you?
Arjun Kadhe: “I feel like I’m focusing a little more on the fitness aspect and trying to stay healthier. I’m working a little bit more specific. Although I would like to play with a set partner. I think luck also plays a big factor. If you see this time, I’ve never been in a tournament where we’ve lost more points in the total match and somehow still won the match. This happened three times in this tournament. So, I feel like there’s something that has to do with a little bit of luck as well.
And I’m really grateful for all the support, and the Doubles Dream of India program, which Balu sir is helping with. He helped us with some tactics and the physios were there helping. That plays a big role. I would also like to thank all the guys supporting us and obviously, Jay for playing with me and pushing. He was a star. I feel like even though he played some really long matches in this heat, he didn’t give up and I think that was the key. You know, he wanted to play and he wanted to push. I think it makes a huge difference.”
How difficult is it to adjust to a new partner week in, week out?
Jay Clarke: “I think when you get to a certain level, everyone’s good. I think it’s more important to try and find someone that plays on the same side. I think that’s a big thing because then you can just keep improving every week. And that’s what was so special about what you did this week. And, you know, he changed sides for me. And, you know, you gave me a chance to feel more comfortable because I do enjoy doubles, but I don’t play that much.
So, the fact that we were able to both return well and apply pressure constantly in every one of their service games gave us a lot of freedom in our games, and we could just enjoy it. We were brave on the points where maybe other players would have thought to make them play. We were actually stepping up and really taking it to them. I think in 50-50 situations, you win that. Even nine times out of 10.”
Q) You’re saying yesterday that you wanted to finish the matches faster and not have to play more than two sets all the time. So, how did you ensure that happened?
Jay Clarke: “I think to be honest, today we were a lot more relaxed in their service games, because we thought we’re probably not going to break even once. They’ve got really big serves. So, we just went for it. We connected on the returns and we knew that if the return went in, our chances went up a lot if we managed to get it to the guy in the back. Then we were able to really push.
Even if we didn’t win the point after the serve, we were like, OK, we’ve got the return back and you know, we got into a rhythm and started reading it a little bit. It just went really fast. I also like the person I played with which I think that helps a lot. I also improved. The first match, I wasn’t amazing, I was a bit slow. Then every match that we played together, we got better and better . And I think today was, you know, a very high level.”
Q) Arjun, you’ve registered with an Austrian partner for Bangalore. Have you played with him before, and can you tell us a little bit about him?
Arjun Kadhe: “No, it’s my first time playing with him. And yeah, I know who he is, I’ve seen him around. I’ve known him for a while. I’ve seen him on tour, but never played with him or against him. I think I played against him a few years ago, but now with him. I’m excited for Bangalore. I’ll be playing a different side. So, it’s going to be a little bit tricky to adjust in the altitude and everything. Because returns play a big part in the game and yeah, I’m excited.”
Q) Can you talk a bit about the Doubles Dream of India program that you mentioned?
Arjun Kadhe: “Everyone’s getting help, not monetary, but for example, they are sending coaches like Balu Sir and physios, you know, wherever possible. And I think for a double s player, given that the prize money is not so much and the expenses are high when you travel abroad, I think this is a huge help in terms of training. You’re a bit more relaxed when you’re traveling, you’re not always alone. I mean it is just starting. Obviously, it will get much better as it goes with time and the planning can go easier, but as of now i think it’s great.”
Q) A follow-up on that, you mentioned traveling alone and expenses. Does it make a difference being abroad with a coach or without a coach?
Arjun Kadhe: “Yes, definitely. I feel like it makes a difference everywhere. Especially in tennis now with coaching being allowed in Challenger tournaments. Small things by the coaches make a difference, could just be one or two points. But, in the end it makes a difference.”
Photos by Srividya Balayogi