“If you perform well at your slams, it sets the whole year forward” – Saketh Myneni

Saketh Myneni made his doubles debut at the US Open, his “home Slam”, as he claims. Myneni spends a lot of time in Connecticut where he has family, and also went to college to the University of Alabama. Myneni and partner Aslan Karatsev were first alternates but made it to the draw after a withdrawal. They lost in three sets to Djere/Huesler.

Excerpts from the interview after the match:
(Main Photo Credit – Mike Lawrence/USTA)

Ashish Malhotra: Tough match. You guys won that tough first set tiebreak. What do you think changed after that?

Saketh Myneni: I think it was tough, like from the beginning. We didn’t start great, in terms of returns and all that. Serve was okay. And pretty good tiebreak to win the first set. Second set lost a little momentum. I think we started the first two games on a positive note. And then once the break came down, I think they started to pick themselves up and be a little more aggressive with their serve. And that’s what happened. And then in the third set we gave a few crucial points away by unforced errors.

And then it’s always tough when you’re down a break to get back, especially with good players.

Ashish Malhotra: Yeah – I’m always curious about how some doubles partnerships come together. Obviously you’ve been playing with Yuki a lot lately but then in terms of you’ve got to find a partner to get in with. Was the process like in terms of partnering up with Aslan and how did that happen?

I know you guys have probably known each other on tour. I saw you played each other in two challengers in the past, but how well do you actually know him?  How did this paring come about?

Saketh Myneni: I met him in the challengers when we played singles and stuff. It was tough to get in, because we didn’t know how many singles players were going to enter for the US Open.

So I didn’t have a partner literally like even two hours before the sign in. So, I was just searching all the doubles guys and all the European guys.

Ashish Malhotra: What’s the process? Are you just messaging people?

Saketh Myneni:  I was messaging people to see who’s available out the doubles guys. Usually you want to play with the doubles guys because the singles guys – you never know with the five set matches and how they’re going to feel the next day and all that. Because doubles starts in the middle of the week. And most of the guys – if you make it that far – they’d rather save their bodies and all that. Yeah. And he was nice enough. Aslan had a long match yesterday also. You can see a little tiredness. But then hats off to him to come back and play doubles today also.

Ashish Malhotra: He does play a good amount of doubles even though he’s top 100 singles….

Saketh Myneni: Yeah, I mean he was like top 20 singles!

Ashish Malhotra:  So he was keen to play doubles this tournament

Saketh Myneni: Yeah, yeah. So we asked him like, in the beginning would you be interested in playing?

So he said like, yeah, let’s try it. I mean, because even singles also he didn’t know how it was because he isn’t a top 32 seed. to seat. Because when you’re a top 32 seed, usually they want to play if they do well and they want to go run because they don’t play another seeded player until a few rounds down.

Yeah. So that was the thing. And then we know each other, but the only problem was we couldn’t practice much. So there’s always going to be some –

Ashish Malhotra:  Wait, so how much did you practice together? Did you even get to practice together at all or no?

Saketh Myneni: No, I didn’t, because he was playing singles. So I did my doubles stuff  just to get ready and be ready. And then yeah, we just warmed up and played today. The problem here [in terms of practice courts] is there’s all singles players playing.

So you just have to be there and just compete. Just try to compete as hard as possible. Fight for each point. Unfortunately, we came up short today.

Ashish Malhotra: What’s your plan now? You’re going to stick around for a bit? Are you going to watch Yuki later?

Saketh Myneni: Yeah I’ll be here for a bit, going to watch Yuki today, and then and then Rohan is playing mixed today.

Ashish Malhotra: Are you going to stick around in New York for a few days? Where are you off to next?

Saketh Myneni: We have to go to Davis Cup I think. And Asian Games camp happening in India, so that’s the next part. So we can’t technically be [in other tournaments] –  I was planning maybe after that – but we can’t squeeze things in between because of the conflicts of Asian Games coming up. So based on that, I thought I have to do a little rehab just to get my body [ready] and then get ready for Asian Games, Davis Cup, and then the October tournaments because they’re finished by the end of October the tournaments. So I just have to get ready for that.

Ashish Malhotra:  I was reading the New York Times piece that was done on you back in 2016 when you made the main draw singles here and you were talking a lot about how you spend a lot of time in the U.S. – particularly in Connecticut, so not far from here. Is that something that you still do? You still feel very much like this is like your second home?

Saketh Myneni: Yeah. This is kind of my home slam, because India doesn’t have a Grand Slam. And I stay in Connecticut – there’s a family and I know a lot of guys and a few of them showed up today. It’s tough when it’s a work day, midday and schools have just started.

Last time I was playing singles, I think I played an evening match, so it was perfect timing for everyone to be out, like it’s after work – then there’s time. It’s  always great when you’re in the US Open, you get to meet all the people, like I work with at the club and the people around this area.

Ashish Malhotra:  It must have felt good to get in as an alternate…Moving forward now: Grand Slams, main draws in doubles  – that must be the goal now moving forward. Can you see yourself doing it for several years still?

Saketh Myneni: Yeah, you want to play the big events no matter what. To get there you have to do all the grinding. I think we did the last two years of grind to get those rankings up to play all these tournaments and higher. So if you perform well at your slams, it sets the whole year forward. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that well in the four slams this year, but at least you give yourself a chance. So you keep knocking on the doors and then you keep competing and you keep fighting and I think you’ll find your broken doors.

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