CHENNAI: As soon as the first round draws of the Chennai Open Challengers were made, one of the doubles match-ups received an unusual amount of attention: Sanchai Ratiwatana/ Sonchat Ratiwatana vs Chandril Sood/ Lakshit Sood. Monozygotic Twins Against Monozygotic Twins.
While the match in itself did not live up to the pre-match attention it received — the No 1 seeds beat the Indian duo 6-0, 6-3 in under 50 minutes — the Ratiwatanas’ story is more than just twins playing on Tour. They have another nickname, ‘the Bryans of the ATP Challengers circuit’. The numbers behind their excellence at this level explain why. They have won 46 titles as a team, the most by any team at this level. Since they became professionals in 2004, they have won at least one Challenger every calendar year.
While the nickname is a bit of a pejorative, the 36-year-olds do not mind it. However, they do have a suggestion. “They (Bryan brothers) are our idols,” Sanchai says. “To be honest, they are incomparable. They are far, far in front of us as players. We want to be known as Ratiwatanas... Kings of the Challengers.” It’s obvious that the pair believes in self-deprecation. “We are obviously proud of the record but the only secret behind that is we play way too many Challengers,” Sanchai laughs. Sonchat nods his head in agreement. They do that a lot of times.
They are also in agreement with the one question they have received over and over again since entering the Tour. “That’s the one question we have always had to answer... who is Sanchai and who is Sonchat,” Sanchai, who is younger of the two by four minutes, says. “Hairstyle. Sonchat has two lines and I do not.”
As the conversation takes a natural shift to how long they can continue owning the Challengers, they stop us mid-question. They are eying another run on the World Tour. They have only won twice (Bangkok 2007 and Chennai 2008) but understand they are running out time to set that record right. “We want to do better than that (win Challengers). Hopefully, we can win a few more on the ATP (World Tour). We still enjoy playing but we have a family. There is also the age factor but look at the likes of Leander (Paes) and (Daniel) Nestor. They are into their 40s and still play at the highest level,” Sonchat explains.Looking at the 50-minute exhibition that unfolded on Monday, the Thailand pair have a few more miles to run.
India hope Sumit Nagal was shown the door by Frenchman Antoine Escoffier in straight sets. On a dark day for India, the 20-year-old was one of seven Indians to lose in the first round. Saketh Myneni, N Sriram Balaji, Sasi Kumar Mukund, Vijay Prashanth, Nitin Kumar Sinha and Dhakshineswar Suresh were also ousted.
Selected results (all Rd 1, Indians unless mentioned):
Arjun Kadhe bt Saketh Myneni 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4, Antoine Escoffier (FRA) bt Sumit Nagal 6-3, 6-3, Duckhee Lee (KOR x3) bt Vijay Prashanth 6-3, 6-4.
Selected matches on Tuesday:
Jordan Thompson (AUS x1) vs K Maamoun (EGY), B Zapata Miralles (ESP) vs Yuki Bhambri (IND x2), P Martinez (ESP) vs Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND x8).