Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi believes the current Canadian team is far superior than the Czech Republic team that beat India 4-1 in New Delhi in play-offs 2015. The Canadians with upcoming star Denis Shapovalov in the squad are strong favourites to win the tie in Edmonton which begins on Friday.
This will be India’s fourth consecutive attempt at climbing into the World Group having lost to Serbia, Czech Republic and Spain in the three years. The Indian side spent a week in New York after the US Open in order to prepare for the tie having dominated the Asia/Oceania Zone.
“Canada is a quality team but of course we are here because we earned the chance to play them. I personally think they are a stronger team than the Czechs when they came to India,” said Bhupathi to PTI.
The Canadian squad will be spearheaded by World number 51 Shapovalov, who reached the US Open fourth round, Vasek Pospisil (82) along with
seasoned Daniel Nestor (43 in doubles) and Brayden Schnur (202) for the play-off tie.
Shapovalov was one of the candidates to lift the trophy at the US Open after an injury plagued tour left the bottom half of the draw without any star names. He reached the fourth round at Flushing Meadows as a qualifier just weeks after beating Rafael Nadal in Montreal.
Bhupathi said the camp at the University of Columbia has helped the team to prepare better for the indoor tie on hard courts. “The week of practice indoors has helped the team. The boys have hit a lot of balls and are feeling good, so we are looking forward to the weekend,” he said.
Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan will be India’s singles specialists in the tie with experienced Rohan Bopanna to play the doubles rubber. Bhambri and Ramkumar have had a stellar year with wins over top players. Bhambri beat Gael Monfils at the Citi Open while Ramkumar got the better of Dominic Thiem in Antalya. “Wins give you confidence and big wins give you lots of confidence. I am sure it’s a stepping stone in their process to make the top 100,” Bhupathi said. “Both Yuki and Ram have had very good summers so they have a lot of matches under their belt. Rohan, of course, made the final in Montreal and is a leader in this team. Saketh is getting better every week, it’s always hard to come back from a long injury layoff but he is committed,” he added.