Yuki Bhambri holds key as India begin Davis Cup campaign

Besides, India’s two singles players — Yuki Bhambri and Somdev Devvarman — love the hard courts at RK Khanna Stadium.

Written by Vishal Menon | New Delhi | Updated: October 7, 2016 5:03:41 pm

Yuki Bhambri, Andy Murray, Andy Murray Yuki Bhambri, Yuki Bhambri Andy Murray, Australian Open, Murray Australian Open, Bhambri Australian Open, Tennis, Sports, tennis News, Sports News Yuki Bhambri (Source: PTI)

Non-playing captain Anand Amritraj is reminded of Chennai as he oversees India’s preparation for the Davis Cup World Group play-off game against World No.1 Czech Republic. Delhi’s unusually unpleasant September makes him recall south coast’s unforgiving heat and humidity. But Chennai also brings to his mind, India’s last Davis Cup high. Back in 2010, the drained out Brazilians succumbed on the final day as the hosts won 3-2, to enter the world group.

Amritraj doesn’t seem to be complaining when he says, “It’s pretty strange…I have never seen Delhi this humid. The conditions here are pretty similar to Chennai.” The 63-year-old feels the Czechs are a pretty formidable opposition, but believes the Indian team have the firepower to give them a run for their money.

“To enter the World Group a team needs players in the top 100 and the Czechs have such players. We will definitely put our best foot forward but it will be a tough tie for us,” he said on the eve of the three-day event. His boys too wouldn’t be worried about taking the court with the temperatures expected to hover in the high 30s. Besides, India’s two singles players — Yuki Bhambri and Somdev Devvarman — love the hard courts at RK Khanna Stadium.

Somdev hasn’t been beaten here in five years. As for Yuki, the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) courts are his backyard. It’s home where the Delhi boys, along with sisters, both national-ranked players, grew up. Adding to Yuki’s confidence is his recent form. So India got the first rub of the green, as their best player, Yuki, was drawn to play Czech Republic’s lesser singles player Lukas Rosol.

It’s a small consolation since Rosol, World No.85, happens to be a far better player than No.125 Yuki. So it will be a big surprise in case India take a 1-0 and an absolute miracle if the days ends at 2-0 in India’s favour. That’s because the second singles pits Somdev against World No.40 Jiri Veseley. Going by the rankings, India’s big hope happens to be blazing sun over the heads and the shouting fans on the sides.

Both Yuki and coach Zeeshan Ali are pleased with the order of play. “I am happy that I will be starting for India tomorrow…this is exactly what I had wanted…It’s a 10 amstart and the pressure will be less and I can play freely at 0-0,” the 23-year-old Yuki said after the draw.
Coach Zeeshan Ali, too hinted the rising mercury and energy-sapping humidity will help the Indians. “I am really happy with the way the draw has turned out. Yuki is the man in form and we wanted him to start the campaign for us. The conditions not be as torrid as is expected in the the afternoon session. That suits Yuki. Somdev’s tremendous physical fitness will help counter the searing heat in the afternoon session,” Ali explained.

India will do well to pocket at least a win on Friday and hope that Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes can deliver and take the fight to the final day. It wouldn’t be easy as they face the Czech pair of Adam Pavlasek and the experienced Radek Stepanek.

Sharan comes to Somdev’s aid

Meanwhile, after the morning outing inside the comfort of the five-star hotel where the draw was held, it was stress and sweat for players later in the day. Combating sultry conditions, Somdev had a hit with fellow left-hander Divij Sharan. His inconsistent form notwithstanding, the move was seen as bid to counter the booming strokes of southpaw Jiri Veseley, with whom he will take on in the second match on Friday. Leander on the other hand had a session with reserves Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan on court one.

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