CHENNAI: Better late than never is the idiom that best defines A Amalraj, who seems to have finally found his feet on the international stage. The 31-year-old lost the Chile Open singles final to Soumyajit Ghosh a week back but the duo combined well to win the doubles crown.
Interestingly, Amalraj has achieved relative success in the doubles format which is belatedly beginning to translate to singles. Known for his attack-oriented game, Amalraj’s first doubles moment was silver in the 2014 Commonwealth Games alongside A Sharath Kamal. While Amalraj joined hands with G Sathiyan to reach the quarterfinals of the 2015 Belgium Open and semifinals of the 2016 Bulgaria Open, he has been more consistent in 2017 so far.
Aside from the Chile triumph, Sathiyan and he reached the quarters of the India Open in mid-February as well as the semis of the Thailand Open in late March-early April.
“Honestly, I’d like to excel in singles because that’s the format one dreams of doing well in... But doubles is delightful. In fact, an argument can be made that because of my results in doubles, my singles game has picked up. It’s probably because I’m more relaxed and match-fit,” Amalraj told SS from Sao Paulo, where he will partner Ghosh at the Brazil Open.
Before making the Chile singles final, his only other reputable finish was a quarterfinal loss at the Thailand Open. But Amalraj feels he’s learning from mistakes. “Earlier, there was a lot of instinctive play which, for all its flashy quality, let me down in crunch moments.
These days, I have a proper plan to go with instinct. Ironically, I’ve realised this after playing a lot of doubles.”
Having partnered Sharath, Sathiyan and Ghosh, the Chennai player adds that because of their varied styles, he has learnt about combinations and tactics. “Sharath has powerful strokes off both wings. Sathiyan is a defensive player who relies on consistency.
Soumyajit plays an aggressive, close-to-the-table game. Partnering them has forced me to adapt my game to different situations. You could say I’m better prepared to tackle situations in singles now.”