Local Bengaluru boy Adil Kalyanpur is raring to go at his home ATP Challenger event in Bengaluru, where he has gotten a wildcard in both the singles and doubles competition. In this chat, Adil talks about his preparations for the big ATP Challenger, his time at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca, experiences with Rafa and Uncle Toni, his new association with Nensel Academy, Padel experience in Spain and much more.
Expectations from the Bengaluru Challenger
I'm very excited to play in front of the home crowd, family & friends. I'm not putting any pressure on myself. I'm just going to go out there & give it my best shot. I feel really confident after the pre-season, working with Milos and others. We'll see what happens.
Introduction to Tennis
I started playing Tennis when I was five and a half years old. I used to live in Whitefield(a locality in Bangalore). There was a club nearby that was holding a summer camp, and I signed up. I really took to it and kind of progressed from there.
I was 11 when I first went to the US to play in a few tournaments. That is when I realised that I could compete at the international level. I learnt that it was a career option, and I liked the sport as well. So that was when I first realised I could actually take it up professionally.
Skipping Junior Grand Slams for Futures
At the time, I was training at Rafa Nadal Academy, and their philosophy was to focus more on the men's circuit. And it just so happened that there were a few Futures scheduled at the same time, and they wanted me to make the transition to the pro tour as soon as possible. So that is why I missed out on playing in a few Junior Grand Slam events.
I don't think it was an awful decision. It would have been nice to play the Slams but I don't regret it too much either. So it's all good.
Transition from Juniors to Pros
I think it's pretty tough. It takes 2-3 years at least to establish yourself in the pros. The players are stronger, fitter and hit much bigger. There are a lot of mental games involved as well. So it's quite tough.
Time at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca
It was a good time. I spent almost three years there. Getting to spend time with Uncle Toni, hitting with Rafa a few times was special. Although I improved a lot, I struggled a lot with my body. I had a lot of injuries, as I wasn't taking very good care of my body.
Experience of hitting with Rafa
INTENSE. He hits hard, deep, with a lot of spin. The second you lose a little bit of focus, you end up hitting the ball to the fence or out of the stadium. You feel a lot of fatigue while hitting with him, but the adrenaline kind of keeps you going. It's a lot of fun.
And he was not going easy at all. It was no mercy from his side.
Interactions with Uncle Toni
Toni Nadal is a very nice guy. He's very genuine, humble. He is a man of a lot of values and principles. And he brings a lot of intensity on the court.
He follows the "Nadal Mentality". There is a lot of reputations involved, and he's very optimistic. He kept telling me that I could turn my weaknesses into strengths. So that was nice. It's good to have positivity around you.
Padel experience at the Nadal Academy
Padel is a lot of fun. There are courts at the Rafa Nadal Academy. Every Saturday-Sunday we would fix up tournaments and play. It's also similar to Tennis. It's amazing!
Doubles vs singles
I think it's the variety in doubles that allows me to perform a little bit better – serve & volley, slices, lobs. There's a lot going on and there is a lot of feel and hands in play, which suits my game.
Also, fitness levels has been a big issue for me the past 3-4 years. Doubles is a lot more intense, but it's easier on the lungs. It's a lot more intricate, mental stuff, which I think I'm slightly better at.
Pre-season in Chennai in December
It was hell. Milos(Galecic) didn't take it easy with us on the track, in the gym. Sascha(Nensel) was tough with us on the court. But after two days of rest post the fortnight of off-season, I could feel the difference on court. I could run much faster, hit the balls much harder. It was highly valuable.
Association with Nensel Academy
Yes. I go back on the 17th Feb, and I'm committed with them. I'll be there full time. After the Bangalore Challenger this week, I'm going to play Futures on hard courts in Europe, while training at the academy in Hannover, Germany. Then probably play on clay in the summer.
I haven't set any goals as such, but it would be nice to crack Top 600 in singles. It's going to take a lot and I'm ready for it.
This article was originally published on Indian Tennis Daily