New Delhi: Vishnu Vardhan impressed one and all with his gritty fight against Kei Nishikori in his Davis Cup debut match but Somdev Devvarman feels it's too early to declare that India have got the second specialist singles player for the prestigious tournament.
Doubles specialist Rohan Bopanna has been playing the role of the second singles player for long in the Davis Cup.
The 24-year-old Vardhan played the second reverse singles against world number 55 Nishikori in the play-off tie against Japan when Somdev was ruled out due to a shoulder strain and the debutant put up a good fight before losing.
"He has got a lot of praise. The guy rose to occasion. It's not easy to play against the guy he played. There is a difference of 400 places. He did not look like 400 places behind."
"However, potential is something and getting result day in and out is something else. Most of us are guilty of judging people on one match. You have to be consistent," Somdev, who was in the city to receive his Arjuna Award, told reporters.
Somdev could not turn up to receive the coveted award on the National Sports Day due to his US Open commitment and on Tuesday he got the trophy from Sports Minister Ajay Maken.
"It's a very nice honour. I am happy I won it. Good to have appreciation of the Sports Ministry and the public," he said.
India were relegated to Asia/Oceania Zone after losing the tie against Japan 1-4 but Somdev refused to read much into the defeat.
"It's sport. Sometimes underdogs win and favourites lose. It's unpredictable and what's matters is what's on court and not on papers. And we must appreciate that Japan played well and it's wonderful accomplishment for them and the Asian tennis," Somdev said.
"We will play again in Group and hopefully back to the World Group soon," he added.
Talking about his injury, Somdev said he will be back into action in about 15 days' time and blamed too much tennis for it.
"It's not great but it's just a strain. Not any tear. I have been asked to rest for two weeks so I am not too eager to rush a comeback. It's because of overuse. I have (been) playing a lot of tennis since last year. The first time I realised the after-effects in April this year," he said.
Asked to sum up his season thus far, Somdev, who of late has come up with some poor results, was satisfied with how things panned out.
"It's an average year although the statistics say it's my best year. I have done well in bigger tournaments and not in other tournaments. Overall it's a good year. I am only 26 and and looking forward to play 5-6 more years," he said.
Somdev begged to differ when countered with the question that the Indian system has not produced many good players.
He himself is based in the US and talented players such as Yuki Bhambri and Sanam Singh have also trained outside the country.
"We are getting the sport more popular. To create champion is not easy. All you can do is create opportunities. I got my basics here, spent 19 years. It's a global sport, played by over 200 counties unlike cricket. It's very competitive. Even the Americans go and train in Europe, they learn technique," he said.
Somdev also joined the chorus of world's leading players in complaining against the crammed schedule. World number four Andy Murray has even threatened a players's strike if officials do not heed to their calls.
The top players are required to compete in all the four Grand Slams, nine Masters Series events, the season-ending World Tour Finals apart from some lower-tier tournaments.
Problems arose yet again when bad weather during the US Open forced star players such as Murray and Rafael Nadal to play three matches in as many days to make the semi-finals.
"Absolutely. A lot of people were talking about it and what happened at US Open just stirred it up. It's not just scheduling and the way it's being run, the players are underpaid," said Somdev.
"They just get 12% of the revenue and any practical person would say that it's the players who help generate all the revenue. Change is good and it's going to happen. We did not have players' union and we'll see a change," he said
Somdev sympathised with those who lost their loved ones in the recent earthquake that shook Sikkim and other North Eastern Indian states.
"It's the power of the mother nature. No one can control it. You never know what can hit you. My thoughts and prayers are to all who got affected," he said.