Mankad questions timing of National Grasscourt

Kolkata, Dec 17 (UNI) Harsh Mankad today questioned the timing of the National Grasscourt Championships, which several top players missed due to off season.

'' This is such a lovely tournament. It's so close to my heart. I wish this tournament was held after the Australian Open somewhere in January then all the players like Rohan Bopanna and Praksah Amritraj could have played, '' he said.

'' This is a special tournament for me. I hope it gets back the limelight it deserves. Actually this is the off-season and hence many players skip this tournament, '' he added.

Harsh Mankad was back after an injury lay-off for an year. And in the last year he had come full circle. He opted out of the Asia-Oceania Round 1 tie against South Korea and the relegation play-off against Pakistan in April.

And then the patella of his knee gave way. Frustration piled and forced him to withdraw from all tournaments. The situation became worse as the pain intensified and he was under complete medical care for the whole of last year.

Looking back, Mankad was more philosophical and buoyed by the fact that he was playing now. '' I am glad that I made a comeback, '' he said after his first-round match against Divyanshu Singh, which remained incomplete with him leading 6-4, 4-2, at the senior national grasscourt championship.

'' I looked a little subdued in the ATP Challengers in New Delhi in November. But things are better now as I am getting back the confidence and match sharpness. Even when I played a Challenger in Kuala Lumpur before Delhi, I wasn't sure of handling pressure. Now here I feel the juices are flowing, '' he said.

Asked about his preparation and strategy if he gets selected for the Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan, he said it was early to predict.

'' There are a lot of good players in this championship and I have to prove myself. The fact that I played well did not make me over confident. I always believe you learn from each match. I want to take one match at a time. It's not easy to stage a comeback after a long lay-off but I am confident of getting into the groove, '' Mankad said.

Talking about his injury, he said, '' Although they said it was muscle weakness, they failed to pinpoint it. It was finally diagnosed as patella injury that had a muscle imbalance and weakness of muscle, very common among athletes. '' UNI

Story first published: Monday, December 17, 2007, 22:05 [IST]
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