Indians lack physicality for singles tennis, says Henman

Former Britain No.1 and World No.4 Tim Henman on Thursday said Indians lacked the physicality to become good tennis singles players — a disadvantage that has hampered the country’s finest such as Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi.

“There are some really good players, very impressed with the standard here. The challenge for them is the physicality of the game — how fit, how strong you can get… also the mental side of things… the intensity, the concentration to keep playing well from the first ball to the last ball,” Henman said at the launch of a pilot scheme –‘HSBC Road to Wimbledon’, first Wimbledon event outside Britain.

“Tennis doubles and singles is almost like two different sports,” said Henman.

“You can play a little doubles to advance your singles game but at the end of the day singles is where it’s at and it would be ideal to just focus on that aspect of the game.”

India’s top singles player Somdev Devvarman is currently ranked 90th in the world while the next best is Yuki Bhambri at 172nd place.

Leander Paes, who won the singles bronze at the 1996 AtlantaOlympics, was the top ranked player in the junior circuit but after turning professional in 1991 almost immediately joined the doubles circuit.

“When you reflect on their games they have good skills, wonderful hands but it is the physical aspect, having the big shot, the physical prowess on the court, hit and move fast and play for three to five hours that’s what I think they haven’t been able to do,” Henman said of Paes and Bhupathi.

Talking about the need for professional international coaches for youngsters in India, Henmansaid it was far more important to recruit talented players.

“At the end of the day, you have to go out and find the talent, the coach is only as good as the player. India is a nation keen on sports and with a lot of people there are obviously a lot of talented players out there.”—IANS