Eastbourne: In the last 24 hours, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan endured a heartbreaking development, fought stress while waiting for a 'yes' and eventually came out smiling to live his Wimbledon dream.
For the first time in his career, Jeevan earned a chance to make his Grand Slam debut but an ankle injury to his partner Hyeon Chung almost killed his dream.
However, as destiny would have it, American Jared Donaldson came as his saviour and agreed to play with the Indian left-hander at the most prestigious grass court tournament.
And what a stroke of luck!
With their combined ranking of 160 (Jeevan 95 and Jared 65), they grabbed the last available spot in the main doubles draw. The cut-off mark for direct entry is exactly 160 this year.
"To re-pair at exactly 160 was pretty amazing," Jeevan told PTI from Eastbourne, where he is competing at Aegon International with Australia's Matt Reid.
Since giving up singles to focus on doubles and beginning the season with his maiden ATP World Tour title with Rohan Bopanna at the Chennai Open, playing at a Major was the next big target for the Chennai lad, married to golfer Neha Tripathi.
But the excitement of playing at the Wimbledon evaporated when Chung told him yesterday that he can't play. Now Jeevan had about 24 hours to find a new partner.
"It was tough mentally to hear the news from Hyeon but I am glad he told me before the deadline and gave me an opportunity to find someone else to beat the main draw cut.
"After speaking to the tournament referees and tour managers they informed me I had until the first point of qualifying which begins today to re-pair.
"All the wild cards had been given, I couldn't play Qualifying as I entered the main draw in Eastbourne and it looked pretty bleak, the chances to find another player in the top 65," Jeevan explained how bad the situation was for him.
Jeevan was thankful to the moral support provided by senior pro Rohan Bopanna.
"But Rohan (Bopanna) and Manu (his fitness coach Manu Bajpai) helped me stay in the present and we practiced together, doing our routines. At 5pm, I got the news that Jared was interested to play which was great," he said
"Jared is in Eastbourne for singles and I told him the situation and he needed a few hours to discuss it over with his coaches and texted me saying 'yes let's do it'."
Jeevan is a relieved man now since missing out on playing at the Wimbledon despite getting a direct entry would have been nothing short of shattering.
"Yeah Wimbledon is the biggest tournament in our sport and I'm happy to be a part of this year's edition. I guess I was meant to play with Jared this year as it's been a pretty hectic 24 hours," he said.
"And hope Hyeon recovers quickly and we will definitely play together in the future."
This year India will have players in the doubles main draw — Bopanna, Leander Paes, Divij Sharan, Purav Raja and Jeevan.
The draw for the event would be out no June 30.
Published Date: Jun 26, 2017 05:00 pm | Updated Date: Jun 26, 2017 05:00 pm