The Indian tennis team will face Finland in the World Group I of Davis Cup, starting September 17. Coach Zeeshan Ali is of the opinion that the doubles team of Divij Sharan and Rohan Bopanna could help the country seal the clash. In the singles, Prajnesh and Ramanathan would be expected to deliver.
Over the years, doubles has helped India conquer many battles in Davis Cup. Once again, as a depleted India take on Finland in the World Group I tie in Espoo, the team of Divij Sharan and Rohan Bopanna will be expected to deliver the goods. In the entire tie, Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori is the only player ranked inside top-100 and could pose a danger to the Indian singles players, as far as doubles is concerned, Bopanna (world no. 44) and Divij Sharan (world no. 86) are right up there, and are to take on Henri Kontinen (world no.46) and Harri Heliovaara (world no.76) on Saturday.
“Rohan and Divij are seasoned doubles players and have also been playing a lot of tournaments leading up to the tie,” India’s Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali told Olympics.com
“Both of them also played some tournaments together this summer so I'm happy about that. Doubles will be a very important match and could decide the outcome of this tie depending on how the first days results are.”
In the singles section, India does not have the presence of Sumit Nagal, but Prajnesh Gunneswaran (world no.165) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (world no. 187) will be expected to win their matches. In reserves, the Indian team has also fielded Saketh Myneni.
“At this point all the three singles players are ready to play. All options are open at this point. I'm glad Saketh was available for this tie as he has a big game and has the experience of having played some big matches for India in the past,” added Ali.
“Ram is coming off a good tournament in France last week where he reached the quarters of the singles and won the doubles. So he is obviously playing sharp and Prajnesh has also been playing a lot of matches the last few weeks. So in terms of preparation, all our players have had a good amount of tournaments leading up the tie and that's the best kind of preparation that one can have.
"Not having Sumit or even Sasi Kumar who chose to play tournaments this week instead of Davis Cup has been very disappointing. Finland have a better ranked player for their first singles but our second player (Otto Virtanen, ranked 419) is ranked higher than theirs. So it pretty even.”
But Finland will have an added advantage of playing at home. “We got the match court from Tuesday onwards which has been the latest we have received the match court in any Davis Cup tie.
“It's an indoor Rebound Ace surface specially made for the Finnish teams liking. Our players were quite comfortable on it today and hopefully will adapt to it better in the next couple of days. The quality of tennis played indoors is about 25-30% better in terms of quality as there is no outside factors involved. No sun or wind improves the level of play. Our players are quite comfortable playing indoors. All of the players these days are professionals and adapt to new conditions quickly.”
Meanwhile, the winner of this clash will progress to the World Group Qualifiers.