The Davis Cup tie over the weekend between Chinese Taipei and New Zealand marked the end of the action this year in the Asia Oceania Group I after which the next season’s schedule was released in London on Tuesday. India has landed a favourable draw as it plays one of the relatively weaker teams in their eight-team group,South Korea.
Seeded fourth,India will host the South Koreans in the February 1-3 tie as the last time the two countries played in 2006,the venue was Changwon. Though India had lost that tie 4-1 and have an overall losing record against South Korea as well,their chances are bright this time,what with their opponent’s best ranked singles player ranked in the 300s.
“The first relief is that it is a home tie. We should be hopefully winning this one. We have a great chance of doing well against South Korea. I expect India to go through after this tie,” India’s top singles player Yuki Bhambri,who is incidentally playing a Challenger in Seoul and faces a South Korean opponent on Wednesday,said.
Had India not been one of the four seeded teams,it could have got a much tougher draw against rising Asian heavyweights Japan,or Australia or Uzbekistan,to whom they had lost this year.
But because one seeded nation doesn’t play another in the opening round,India will be at an advantage at the start of their campaign next year. While Yuki concedes the hosts will be the favourites for this tie,he has the bigger challenges ahead in sight. “It’s good to not be an underdog in the first tie of the year. Eventually we will have to face Japan or Australia when we aim for the World Group but against South Korea we are the favourites and that could give us a good start,” he added.
Korea’s top most ranked Suk-Young Jeong,19,has been going deep into Challenger draws but Indian captain SP Misra feels that if his young team could thrash a New Zealand side,this tie should be fairly easy. “This draw is very encouraging,it’s very good for us. Their players are not very highly rated. Beating New Zealand,who were so experienced in the five-set format has given me great confidence,” Misra said.