The 34-year-old will play in the ATP Challenger series Chennai Open.

The Indian pairing of Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Sriram Balaji has started the 2023 season on a positive note getting to the finals at the ATP 250 Maharashtra Open and entering into the second round of the Australian Open. In both tournaments, the pair entered the main draw as an alternate and found success. Also, both recently entered the top 100 of the ATP doubles rankings and look set to achieve more success in the season ahead.  

Khel Now got an opportunity to interact with both athletes ahead of the ATP Chennai Open Challenger.

Thoughts on the 2023 season

The Indian doubles pair started the 2023 season on a bright note reaching the finals of the ATP Maharashtra Open and also reaching the second round of the Australian Open.

Jeevan said, “We started off pretty well and need to stay healthy and focused while continuing to have a good season.”

Success as the Alternates

Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Sriram Balaji entered the main draws of the ATP Maharashtra Open and the Australian Open as alternates.  

Sriram Balaji explained, “At the time of the tournament (Australian Open) we were the fifth alternate i.e after removing the rankings of PR (Protected Ranking) players. It was Jeevan’s decision to go there and he went in early while I had work in Frankfurt, Germany and after finishing I joined him in Australia.”

Jeevan stated, “It was all about probability as we were one out of sixteen at Pune and four out of sixty-four at the Australian Open. We were playing well and thought of giving ourselves an opportunity to play at the Grand Slam and if that happens good else utilize it as a good training week. In the end, we were able to qualify and all the hard work put in Melbourne paid off”

Off-season training in Dubai

Rohan Bopanna in December 2022 organized a two-week training camp for Indian men’s doubles players in Dubai which proved to be beneficial for most of the players.

Sriram Balaji described the training schedule and said, “The training was sponsored by KPIT Kishore Patil for a bunch of doubles players in India. Rohan Bopanna helped in organizing the camp along with coach Balu sir along with a couple of trainers. Basically, we wanted to get better for the 2023 season and started the training with drills and boxes in the first week and in the second week, we played for a lot of points. Our preseason started earlier and had a trainer with us in Bombay and Delhi for ten days.”

Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan further added, “All the players who were there in the Dubai camp are playing well. Arjun Khade was also part of the camp and finished as the finalist along with Anirudh and Masur in Quimper and Vilnius ATP Challengers respectively. It is good to see doubles players working hard and getting the desired results already.”

Adaptation from Challengers, ATP Tours to Grand Slams

The ATP Challengers and ATP 250’s have super tie breaks in the third set (the first pair to score ten points wins the set and the match) in the men’s doubles section whereas the Grand Slam follows the traditional format. 

Sriram Balaji cheekily said, “Do more drills and work on fitness that’s all (laughs).”

Jeevan opined, “It is obviously more physical because you are playing the whole third set. We took a restroom break after the second set to make a plan for the third set and become a bit fresher as it was 11:00 AM start and was quite hot that day. It is all about match management and we have played many singles matches so we know what the third set is like. In the end, we were happy with the result.” 

Future tournaments

The Indian pair after playing the Chennai Open will head to France to play in the ATP 250 Marseille Open and then will get back to play in the ATP Pune Challenger.

“After playing the Chennai Open we will be heading to ATP 250 Marseille Open and will be back to India to play the Pune Challenger. Marseille Open is a bigger opportunity for us as it is a higher-level tournament. We love playing in Bangalore but with an opportunity of playing in the higher-level tournament, we have to take it,” Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan confirmed.

Youngsters to look forward 

15-year-old Manas Dhamne and 17-year-old Yuvan Nandal are two bright stars of Indian tennis and recently took part in the junior section of the Australian Open.

Jeevan quipped, “As far as I know, have only seen Manas Dhamne play who is a good talent. Yuvan Nandal is training along with Sania Mirza in Dubai who also is a good youngster and will like them to do well.”

Goals going forward

Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan is currently placed in the top 100 while Sriram Balaji is just outside the top 100 of the ATP Doubles rankings.

Jeevan stated his future goal and asserted “Will look to see me in the top 60 in doubles rankings and playing well in all four Grand Slams.” 

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