Battered, bruised and bandaged, Prakash Amritraj is back
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Prakash Amritraj wears compression shin pads, a strip of tape around his knee, an elastic support around his wrist and an elbow support. Looking at the 29-year-old move around the court, the image that comes to mind is of a battle-weary soldier patched up for another skirmish. "My body is feeling really good right now," he says. "But I have to be careful considering the spate of injuries that I have had."
Amritraj is playing an ITF Futures event in Pune, only his third tournament since making a comeback after two and a half years spent on the sidelines with an injury to his right wrist, which he sustained after Wimbledon 2010.
"Two years is a long time. But right now I am thankful for this break. I did an intensive period of rehabilitation, and worked on strengthening my body," he says. "This break has allowed me to play freely and with much more confidence."
Amritraj showed a bit of that confidence when he came back from 1-4 in the first set against VM Ranjeet to win the set 7-5. Amritraj had a relatively easier second set, and used his experience and command over the baseline to win 6-2 .
Making a comeback at 29 is not a common phenomenon in professional tennis, as Amritraj himself admits. "A lot of professional tennis players quit at 30 because they have already spent 10 years on the tour," he says. "I turned pro in 2003, and half the time I haven't played due to injuries. My age might be 29 but my body and mind feel like 22."
Amritraj is currently ranked 806 in the world; bettering his ranking isn't his immediate objective. "I am just concentrating on playing as many matches as I can," he says. "Back home in Los Angeles, I did not use my protected ranking to get into the main draw. I played qualifiers and then advanced to the final. I am just concentrating on spending as much time on the court as possible."