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Nedunchezhiyan to make Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon after entry scare


Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (L) and Rohan Bopanna (R) of India during their semi final men's at the Chennai Open Tennis Championship in January  2017. (Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (L) and Rohan Bopanna (R) of India during their semi final men's at the Chennai Open Tennis Championship in January 2017. (Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan has described playing at Wimbledon as a “dream come true” after making the cut for the men’s doubles main draw at a Grand Slam for the first time – despite having to draft in a new partner at the last minute.

Nedunchezhiyan (below), who won the Chennai Open doubles title with Rohan Bopanna earlier this year, was set to partner Hyeon Chung in next week’s event in London before the South Korea pulled out 24 hours before the entry deadline.

Luckily for the Indian player, Jared Donaldson stepped in as a replacement and their combined ranking exactly matched the 160 cut off mark.

“To re-pair at exactly160 was pretty amazing,” the 28-year-old explained. “It was tough to hear the news from Hye-on but I am glad he told me before the deadline and gave me a chance to find someone else to beat the main draw cut.

“But all the wild cards had been given, I couldn’t play qualifying as I enter-ed the main draw in Eastbourne and it looked pretty bleak, the chances to find another player in the top 65.”

After the American agreed to be his new team mate, Nedunchezhiyan (95) and Donaldson (65) squeezed into the tournament by being given the final spot. The Indian was thanked Bopanna for his help.

“Rohan and (fitness coach) Manu (his 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,” Nedunchezhiyan added.

“Jared was in Eastbourne for singles and I told him the situation, he said he needed a few hours to discuss it over with his coaches. Later he texted me saying: ‘Yes, let’s do it’.”

He added: “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 time.

“I hope Hyeon recovers quickly and we will definitely play together in the future.”

Nedunchezhiyan concluded: “It was my late grandfather’s dream to see me play here. My aim is to play well and stay in the present, to continue working towards earning chances like this more often. It is a dream come true for me, especially since it’s Wimbledon.”

Divij Sharan and Purav Raja will also compete at Wimbledon in the men’s doubles competition.