Updated: April 3, 2014 4:18:36 pm
Yuki Bhambri’s absence from India’s Davis Cup Asia/Oceania second round tie against South Korea may have spiced up a seemingly straightforward tie. India take on the lowly Koreans in Busan for a spot in the World Group playoff but the team’s nomination for the second singles rubber is shrouded in secrecy.
India No. 2 Bhambri pulled out of the tie last week after injuring his left heel while training in Delhi. While the country’s highest-ranked player Somdev Devvarman will feature in one singles rubber, it’s a toss-up between Saketh Myneni and Sanam Singh, to replace Bhambri for the second singles match. If the team management decides to go by the ATP rankings, then Myneni — ranked 256 — is likely to get the nod ahead of Sanam, who is placed 115 places below him.
Myneni also defeated Singh in the final of ITF F2 Futures tournament in Bhimavaram earlier this month, which was played on hard courts. The duo won the doubles title at the same event. Sanam also reached the final of F3 Futures tournament in Chennai that was played on clay.
India coach Zeeshan Ali said the slow courts in Busan favour Singh’s game marginally but did not reveal who will play the second singles tie. Non-playing captain Anand Amritraj insisted there was no uncertainty over the second singles player.
He, in fact, admitted to indulging in mind games ahead of the tie. Not willing to give anything away, South Korea haven’t yet nominated players for Friday’s singles rubbers. “So even we have decided to kept our cards close to the chest. I know who is playing the second singles and the rest of the player also know so there’s no uncertainty there. But we won’t reveal the name until the draw ceremony on Thursday morning,” Amritraj said.
Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni are slated to feature in Saturday’s doubles rubber. Despite not playing regularly alongside each other, the duo looked solid against Chinese Taipei in Indore.
Both Ali and Amritraj said the composition of the team can change depending on India’s position at the end of first day. “We have the option of changing the team one hour before the match on Saturday. Depending on who plays the second singles rubber and the result of the match, we will take a call on the doubles team,” Ali said.
India, chasing their first Davis Cup win in South Korea, reached Busan on Sunday. Amritraj said Bhambri’s absence should not hurt India much as the rest of the team is up for the challenge. “If Yuki was here things would have been rather smooth. We would have set players for singles and doubles. But Saketh and Sanam are quite sharp and should be good enough for the Korean players. It all boils down to how well they play on that particular day,” Amritraj said.
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