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Sport - Tennis Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Bellucci an improved player

Raakesh Natraj


Bellucci has tasted success on different surfaces

The left-hander moves well on court and has a big serve


CHENNAI: Rohan Bopanna will have to upturn a difference in ranking of 452 places to ensure that India does not start in the red in its World Group play-off against Brazil.

When the first match of the tie kicks off, on the other side of the net will be Thomaz Bellucci, ranked 27th in the world, and to whom sticks the label of a baseline slugger as adhesively as an aide to a politico.

Not without reason though, as all three of Bellucci's ATP Tour and eight of his Challenger finals have been on clay.

The 22-year-old is, however, coming off his best year at the Majors, and in his relatively short career, has scalped the likes of Stanislas Wawrinka, James Blake and Ivan Ljubicic.

Some details

Brazil's non-playing captain, Joao Zwetsch, after graciously conceding to the oft-asked query on home advantage, revealed a few details on Bellucci's game, which may not really add to the media-espoused typecasting of the wiry player as an inhibited expert.

“The Indians have the home advantage, but Thomaz is a much improved player. Mello is good on hard courts as well. Earlier, our players were brought up on clay but now if you are going to be competitive on the Tour, you have to play well on all surfaces. The boys have been competitive on indoor carpet, which is quite fast,” said Zwetsch.

A disinclination to be belligerent, a serve that is friendly and a style that is uni-dimensional are the components of the successful-but-boring clay court stereotype, something Zwetsch feels Bellucci hardly conforms to.

Aggressive player

“Thomaz is an aggressive player and has been learning efficient ways of using that aggression.

“He is much improved physically and technically from two years ago, and implements things fast, so we don't get stuck for too long on any aspect.

“Bellucci has had success on different surfaces. He's tall, moves well on court and, more importantly, has a big serve,” added the coach.

Being Brazilian, young pros who cause a stir on the Tour can hardly escape comparisons with Gustavo Kuerten — former World No. 1 and triple French Open winner — and Bellucci is no exception.

Big inspiration

“He (Kuerten) is a big inspiration for every Brazilian tennis player. It is not a big tennis centre so every time we get a talent the expectations are high.”

Kuerten's success at the Slams may be out of left-hander Bellucci's reach yet, but a good display here will endear him to fans back home, conferring on him adulation that escaped ‘Guga', who was frequently accused of not taking the Davis Cup seriously.

“It's been a long wait for us. We haven't won a World Group play-off tie in the last four years.

Now, with Bellucci doing well, people are expecting a lot from him,” Zwetsch said.

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