Dubai: Omar Behroozian, the mainstay of UAE tennis, is confidently looking forward to his next major challenge of leading his country to a successful outing at the Davis Cup.
The UAE will still be competing in the Asia-Oceania Group IV alongside another 15 nations, including immediate Gulf neighbours Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
The 16 countries were scheduled to play their Davis Cups at the Tennis Complex of the Olympic Village in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in the first half of June.
However, with the COVID-19 sweeping across the world, all tennis activity has been postponed indefinitely. David Haggerty, President of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), has extended the suspension of all ITF tournaments through to July 31 earlier this week.
However, the ITF has issued its ‘Return to Tennis guidelines’ for the staging of competitions with appropriate integrity, health and safety measures in place with an advice to recreational players to follow information and instructions from their national federation while they return to the courts.
Making his Davis Cup debut as a 14-year-old against Lebanon’s Badih Al Munzer way back in 1996, Behroozian has gone on to establish himself as a leader on and off the court over the past two and-a-half decades. He has a win-loss record of 62-28 in the singles and 35-19 in the doubles to be the most successful player representing the UAE in Davis Cup.
“I am still optimistic that we will have Davis Cup this year. May be the ITF may move it towards the end of the year, perhaps in November or December,” Behroozian told Gulf News.
“Hopefully by then, it will be easier to fly and things will be back to normal. For the time being, we can look forward with a lot of optimism as things are opening out here. We can now go back to doing things that we like to do and one of these is to play tennis,” he added.
Forced into a break starting from early March, Behroozian had taken things easy during the lockdown period. “I needed the break as it had been tough since last summer. I had not taken any time off, especially during our build-up for last year’s Davis Cup,” he recalled.
“The first three weeks were good for me as I needed the rest. I was forced to stay away from the court, but it was not gloom and doom for me. It meant spending some good time with my family,” he added.
However, but after missing tennis for nearly three months, the 38-year-old wants to be out there once again and start afresh. “I feel like I am rejuvenated now. I am reminded of my childhood when I used to eagerly wait to go on court. For sure, I have missed the courts and missed competing,” Behroozian said.
“Whether it is playing matches or practising or coaching, tennis has always been the same to me. It has always posed a challenge to me. Mentally, I have been feeling good and I think I have used this time to recharge my batteries and I am very motivated to resume in full gusto for the challenges ahead,” he added.
His best years may be way past him, but Behroozian knows how to keep himself motivated. He has a career high ATP singles ranking of No. 805 (achieved on July 14, 2003), while his doubles career high ATP ranking was No. 1005 (May 26, 2003).
Behroozian is also one of two – Mahmoud Nader Al Baloushi is the other – who have received the prestigious Davis Cup Commitment Award presented by the ITF to players who have shown long-standing dedication to team tennis.
Last year, the UAE nearly made it through to Group III after winning all three group matches against Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia before losing in the Group IV play-offs against Pacific Oceania.
“It is summer now and none of us are going to return superfit. So, to start with, we will need to practice in very tough and trying conditions,” Behroozian said.
“Obstacles in life happen for a reason. It’s a challenge and I am always up for it. We will be back to normal soon and we will be looking at a strong performance in Group IV,” he added.