India’s Purav Raja and Divij Sharan have emerged as a force on the ATP Challenger this season by winning four doubles titles and getting inside top-70 but lack of recognition for their achievements in their own country has left them a bit disappointed as they seek a change in perception for the doubles exponents of the game.
Raja and left-hander Sharan won the Pune Challenger two days back and before that they had triumphed in Segovia, Surbiton and Manchester.
Not only this, they clinched an ATP 250 title in Mexico (Los Cabos) and made semifinals in Atlanta, Gstaad and Newport events on the World Tour, gaining more than 1200 points each in the current calendar.
Apart from them, only one team - Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith - has managed to win four Challenger level titles together. Four teams won three titles.
Singles players always get more prominence but they feel there should not be any discrimination.
“We are not hungry to be in limelight. We are simple, but there’s evidence that nobody knows we are ranked 60 in the world. Outside (India), if you are 60-70, people know and support you. They will give you whatever you want. They understand your achievements. But in India, not many people know so you can’t blame them. We have played 6-7 Finals this season,” Raja said.
“Tennis players should be respected for what they do. I don’t think one should be given bigger (respect/help) than the other and one should be given less than the other. To make a living out of tennis, you have to be a very very good player, whether it’s singles or doubles,” he said.
Sharan, who hails from Delhi, added, “Sometimes it (lack of acknowledgment) obviously hurts. May be it will not be treated at par but (respect) would make us feel better.”
Playing semifinals of Tour events is as good as winning Challenger in terms of points and they have done that.
“If someone had told us that we will finish the year at 60, when we were sitting outside 150 at the beginning of the year, we would have taken it gladly,if you look back logically, it has been a very successful year,” Raja said.