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New Delhi, September 2, 2020
Veteran tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi has stressed the need for mental training and infrastructure at the grassroot level to prepare players for top-level competitions at home and abroad.
Talking to paddler Mudit Dani on his online live show "In The Sportlight", the two-time Asian Games doubles gold medallist said: “Mental training is a very important aspect of becoming a professional athlete. When I was growing up, there wasn’t enough talk about it, also enough avenues weren’t there to explore that. But today every athlete explores that area.”
He wanted that infrastructure be made accessible to the public to attract more people to sports in India. “In London, for example, you can pay four pounds and play for one hour of tennis. That is where we struggle.
'In sports like cricket or football, you don’t need much facilities to play but in other sports like tennis, table tennis or badminton, you need to be a member of a club which is challenging and that’s why numbers don’t work in India,”
Recalling his early playing days, Bhupathi termed his first-ever Grand Slam title as the breakthrough moment of his career. In 1997, playing alongside Japanese Rika Haraki, the Indian made headlines after winning the mixed doubles title at the French Open
Asked about US Open, Bhupathi named Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka as the favourites for the title.
After a seven-month-long wait due to the coronavirus outbreak, the US Open commenced on Sunday.
With top players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal missing this year's tournament, the 2002 US Open men's doubles champion Bhupathi is rooting for World No. 1 Djokovic to win his fourth title.
However, despite the tough competition in the women’s singles, Bhupathi felt Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka will hold an edge over her opponents.