Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Karan Rastogi to resume playing Tour events in 2009

India's Karan Rastogi, his promising tennis career laid low by recurring back problems, will attempt a comeback on the Tour early next year.

Rastogi, 21, underwent surgery in Melbourne last week after staying off the tennis courts for almost two months.

"The surgery went off exactly as planned, the surgeon was very happy with the result. I have been discharged already and have been walking around quite a bit," Rastogi told the Indian Tennis Blog on Tuesday.

"Planning on returning to the Tour (in) January or February 2009 but all that depends on the physio and surgeon and how fast I recover," he said.

Back problems have been Rastogi's bane in the past year, noticeably at the Mumbai Open in September, and continued to affect his game and confidence as his ATP ranking plummeted nearly 300 places in recent months.

As a junior, Rastogi was hailed as India's best tennis hope since Leander Paes but a successful transition to men's tennis was no easy task.

His career-best ranking of 327, which he achieved as a 19-year-old in June 2006, is a milestone Rastogi looked set to beat when he won the Morocco F5 Futures claycourt tournament in July last year.

But the Mumbai resident has enjoyed only sporadic success since -- semifinal placings at the $15,000 TCL Futures in Taizhou(China) in April and the $15,000 Meshref Futures in Kuwait the following month.

Although he picked up two doubles titles in China and Korea in April, back problems again forced him to miss the two New Delhi Challengers in May.

Rastogi gifted Australia's Miles Armstrong a walkover victory in the Kuwait semifinal and hasn't played professionally since.

Chances of him coming back to the tennis court this year are bleak -- the recovery process will keep him in Melbourne for a couple of months.

"I won't be able to get back to practice for at least another two months or so I think," Rastogi said.

With Somdev Devvarman having usurped Rastogi's place as upcoming tennis great and teenager Yuki Bhambri fast catching up, the world number 718 (as on July 28) has a hard task at hand.

But no one can take Karan Rastogi for granted. After all, he might just spring some surprises next year.

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With Somdev Devvarman (January 13, 2009 and October 4, 2007)

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