Divij Sharan and Purav Raja
Divij Sharan (L) and Purav Raja during French Open 2017LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

While the likes of Sania Mirza, Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna were making heads turn with their performances in the circuit in 2016, doubles pair of Divij Sharan and Purav Raja were going about their work without any fuss, winning four titles at the ATP Challenger Tour last year.

The experienced duo started 2017 on a good note, reaching the final of Chennai Open, an ATP 250 event. An early exit at Australian Open followed but Divij and Raja buckled up to make the pre-quarterfinals of the French Open.

However, failure to defend the title at Los Cabos in July forced them to split in search of US Open main round berths.

'Want to play with one partner'

Raja teamed up with veteran Paes, but Sharan has not been able to find a regular partner and that has forced him to team up with eight different players in the last three months.

Also read - Bengaluru Open 2017 starts on Monday, November 20; here's all that you need to know about ATP Challenger event

However, Sharan has managed to rise through the ranks in ATP ladder. The 31-year-old broke into the top-50 earlier this month as he was rewarded for his consistency in the last few months.

While he finished runner-up at the Tashkent Challenger with Yuki Bhambri, he partnered with world number 69 Scott Lipsky of USA to win European Open in Antwerp in October.

Sharan reveals it is not ideal to keep rotating partners and that he will be teaming up Lipsky in 2018 in a bid to find a regular partner.

"Yeah, that [finding a regular partner] is obviously ideal. I want to play with one partner, work together as a team and get better as a team. That would obviously be one of the things I would look for next year," Sharan, who starts the US $ 100,000 Bengaluru Open ATP Bengaluru Challenger with Russia's Mikhail Elgin as top seeds, told International Business Times, India on Sunday, November 19.

He added: "I am going to start the year with Scott Lipsky. We have done well together. Hopefully we can start the year well and look at a partnership there. But it's too early to say anything. Both of us would want to focus on the first few months and take it from there."

Divij Sharan and Yuki Bhambri
Divij Sharan partnered with Yuki Bhambri to reach the Tashkent Challenger final in October 2017PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images

'Want to break into top-20'

Sharan and Elgin suffered an early disappointment at last week's Pune Challenger and the former brushes off the defeat, saying he has learnt to accept one or two bad weeks in an year. While he seems to understand the importance of staying in the present, the senior campaigner shows he is not afraid of dreaming big as he opens up about his plans for 2018.

"Well, it [2017 has obviously been great. It's a good last couple of months as well. I am working on a few things related to my game. I am really looking forward to 2018. I have got my goals set high. I am excited to start 2018," Sharan said.

"[Want to break into] Top 30 and then top 20 by the end of the year. It obviously depends on some of the close matches. The goal would be to do well in some of the bigger tournaments as they make a big difference to rankings. I believe as I get better in these things, it will help," he added.

Sharan loves playing at home

Sharan is gearing up to set things right as Elgin and himself take on French-Great Britain pairing of Jay Clarke and Geoffrey Blancaneaux in the opening round of US $ 100,000 Bengaluru Open on Tuesday, November 21. The world number 51 added he does not feel the pressure of being the top seed and that it is comfortable playing at home.

"Not really [feeling pressure]. You go out there, you try to play your best. In doubles anything can happen. That's what happened last week. Most of the matches are close. You can never take any match lightly," Sharan said.

"It [playing at home] is better. You are kind of familiar with conditions. People are there to support you. That obviously helps. I think it's good to play at home. I have had a lot of good results at home recently. I won Pune last year, made the final of Chennai this year. It's always good to play at home."