The name of New Zealands Jose Rubin Statham may not ring a bell on the ATP circuit. But the World No.334 does have the numbers,though not those pertaining to the rankings list,for the Indians to be a tad worried.
Statham has made 17 Davis Cup teams and has played 23 matches. Compared to this the collective experience of Indians namely Yuki Bhambri,Vishnu Vardhan and Sanam Singh is just four matches. Saketh Myneni and N Sriram Balaji are making their debut.
If experience of playing for your country counts,then the New Zealanders have a definite edge. Michael Venus,the second-most experienced player in the New Zealand squad has played 10 Davis Cup matches.
In the absence of the senior pros – Leander Paes,Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna New Zealand are the heavyweights when it comes to Davis Cup match time.
And the visitors are banking on this aspect when they play the young but relatively inexperienced India squad. We certainly have the edge as the Indian team is missing seniors and our players have more experience in Davis Cup. If you go by experience,we have a better chance of winning, said Marcel Vos,New Zealands non-playing captain.
Vos believes that the pressure of representing ones country is of a different kind when compared to the type faced when playing individually on the ATP/ITF circuit.
There will be added pressure on the Indian players because playing in Davis Cup is different from playing on the ATP Tour or Challenger tournaments. The absence of a seniors will definitely hurt the Indians. It is always good to have some amount of experience in the side, Statham said.
However,the Indians are better ranked than Statham. Yuki is at 188,Vardhan at 263. But Statham believes that rankings are immaterial if one is not in the top-100.
If you are playing against a side,which has player in the top-100 then obviously ranking matters. Otherwise I would give great weightage to Davis Cup experience, the New Zealander said. The last time these two teams were involved in a Davis Cup tie was in 2003. The Paes led side won that encounter 4-1. Nine years later,Statham believes that experience will remain the key.