Close to 43 years have passed since Vijay Amritraj reached a career-high men’s singles ranking of 18. The passage of time, however, has not diminished his appeal.
Still dapper at 70, Amritraj was the cynosure of all eyes at an event hosted by The Leela Palace here to honour his induction into the Tennis Hall of Fame (contributor category). Amritraj held court effortlessly with his friendly demeanour and quick wit.
Birthplace of tennis
Amritraj will be inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport (USA) — a city where he has won three titles (1976, 1980 and 1984). “The setting in Newport is spectacular. It is the place where tennis was born in the USA,” Amritraj said.
Amritraj took a moment to remember his late parents — Robert Amritraj and Maggie Dhairyam. “My greatest talent was being born to the right parents,” Amritraj said.
“You must have tremendous support from family, especially your spouse, to stay with it for this long duration of time. To play at 43 — the tough part is all the work that must be put in before matches. As you get older, you slow down. The shot that was once routine is not routine anymore,” Amritraj said,
“The advantage is that Rohan plays doubles. Doubles and singles is like night and day. If you have to run down everything for three hours, as you do in singles, it would have been a nightmare. The good thing is that he has a good serve, so there will always be free points,” he said.
“More than anything else, Rohan is a terrific guy. He’s been a great representative for India,” Amritraj added.
Later this week, India takes on Pakistan in a Davis Cup 2024 World Group I Play-Offs tie at Islamabad (Pakistan). India will slip to Group II if it loses — a scenario that does not sit well with Amritraj.
“I have never known what it is like to be in Group II. I never even knew a Group II existed. That is not where India belongs. It is the players’ job to get us out of it,” Amritraj said.
Don’t take it lightly
Amritraj warned against taking the Pakistan team lightly. “Firstly, I do not know how good the grass courts are in Pakistan. Their players are generally good on grass. On a normal basis — on hard courts over…