MUMBAI: Having lost ranking points in the past few weeks, Purav Raja and Divij Sharan have decided to take a break and team up with different partners. While Raja will be teaming up with veteran Leander Paes at the US Open, Sharan will play with Andre Begemann in New York.
The Raja-Sharan duo, the only consistent Indian pair on the ATP Tour, had enjoyed a breakthrough 2016, winning four Challengers and an ATP 250 event in Mexico. The defending champs lost in the semis in Mexico this year before deciding to go separate ways, at least for the time being. “After Los Cabos we realised we may not make the cut for the US Open,” said Raja, who had dropped to 69 after a career high of 52 earlier in the year. With Sharan also going through a rough patch, Raja approached the 43-year-old.
It was more of a pre-emptive measure by the Indians, who by the looks of it could have got in at the US Open as a team. Paes is ranked 59, which takes his and Raja’s combined ranking to 128. Germany’s Begemann is ranked 66 and along with Sharan, has a combined rank of 134. “In the end I don’t think it would have mattered,” said Raja. “Last year the cut-off was 130 so we had to think ahead. This year the doubles field is weaker, the rankings cut-off has dropped to 150.”
It will be interesting to see how Paes and Raja combine against big-servers. Both of them primarily like to stalk the net, turning to their partners for steady serving and power from the back court. Though they have played Davis Cup together, they are untested in professional waters.
The left-handed Sharan, who had peaked at 51 in July, dropped 15 places in the rankings released on Monday. In the 33-year-old Begemann, he has a partner who has been consistently in the top-100 and has the experience of playing on the big stage. Raja and Sharan are expected to unveil their new partnerships at the ATP 250 Winston-Salem Open beginning on Monday.