“Mentally it was demotivating. I did not need to prepare,” stated the 34-year-old Tamil Nadu lad, who’s now based mostly in the UK since his marriage two years in the past.
Vijay picked up his racquet for the primary time after a spot of eight months in March this yr when he performed in Lucknow, which hosted the primary of 4 ITF males’s occasions.
The final time he performed was in the summertime of 2020 when he partnered Divij Sharan in an area circuit organised by the Britain’s Garden Tennis Affiliation.
“Greater than the tennis, it was health that took successful. The gyms had been shut for the reason that instances had been going up. When the lockdown was partially lifted there have been time slots, even then solely 5 had been allowed (at a time). There have been so many issues and once more in November it was shut,” he stated.
“In Lucknow, it was bizarre to begin after a very long time. I used to be very rusty, no match sharpness.”
Nonetheless, he reached the doubles ultimate with Kaza Vinayak Sharma. However in Indore, Pune and New Delhi, he exited within the first spherical though he had a good run in singles in Pune the place he got here by means of qualifying earlier than dropping within the second spherical.
Since March final yr, when he returned to UK from event play, Vijay has spent greater than 50 days in quarantine at varied occasions during the last 12 months.
“That is practically two months of simply sitting at residence. I do not need to spend any extra time in quarantine,” he stated with a wry grin.
The mini-run he had in singles in Pune – the place he misplaced to finalist Zane Khan, a 19-year-old of Indian origin from the US – showcased the potential that might have taken him far with tiny changes, principally tactical.
For such a very good doubles participant, it was unusual to see him so hesitant to come back as much as the online in opposition to opponents who had been principally children and lacked the on-court imaginative and prescient that comes with years of grinding on the circuit.
Vijay stated that many a time the gameplan one conceives by watching an opponent from exterior was tough to execute once you face him on the court docket.
“When you will have performed for thus lengthy, you might be uncovered to many gamers and totally different patterns of play,” he stated.
“Even simply by watching the game for thus lengthy, you may make observations.
“Zane (Khan) in all probability did not learn about me, it was his coach who advised him about me.
“I do know many gamers and their sport, however executing it’s a totally different factor.
“Whether or not it’s by hours of apply, or is it a psychological factor, or be courageous sufficient to do it (in match scenario), every participant has to determine his personal approach.”
The shutdown in 2020 was preceded in 2019 by the ill-conceived restructuring of the boys’s tour by the ATP, which was subsequently rolled again however not earlier than it had had a disastrous impact on many careers.
Vijay was a type of to endure as his rating nosedived from the excessive of 193 in doubles and 335 in singles. He’s presently 339 in doubles and virtually unranked in singles.
On condition that enjoying on the ITF circuit and even ATP Challengers would not assist a participant make even, it’s sheer ardour coupled with sensible actuality that’s serving as gasoline for Vijay to maintain enjoying.
“It (retirement) positively got here to my thoughts. It’s not simple, one has to construct from the underside on (for the reason that pandemic),” he stated.
“However throughout lock down nothing was open. I could not ask any academy (about teaching alternatives) and the one factor I do know is tennis.
“So I made a decision to see the way it goes this yr, grasp on to this and be assured.”
Vijay derives inspiration from not solely the sport, but in addition sound recommendation from his fraternity.
“Once I ask individuals, all of them say you could begin teaching anytime however can solely play for a number of years,” he stated.
“They all the time inform me ‘simply grasp on’. All of them remorse they stopped early. So, regardless of the causes (of issue), play. ‘If you wish to play, maintain enjoying’.
“Not that they aren’t having fun with now. They make good cash and have a very good life.
“However the formidable particular person in you, deep inside will really feel that you haven’t given a correct shot.”
A key – or the X – issue that has inspired Vijay to offer it one other shot is his spouse Sonam.
“My spouse helps me quite a bit, she is eager for me to proceed to play,” he stated.
“We have now had this dialog. She is the one supporting our relationship mentally and financially in order that I can take probabilities with my tennis profession.
“I’m glad I discovered her.”