'No Davis Cup is a cakewalk'
If players don’t have confidence in me, I see no point in continuing: Misra
When India host Indonesia in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group I play-off tie here from Friday, non-playing captain SP Misra will be forced to do a balancing act in what could be his swansong event.
With a selection row in the background, Misra will have to interact with the leader of the group -- Somdev Devvarman -- that had called for his axing while guiding the team through the contest.
In a chat with Deccan Herald at the KSLTA courts, the 71-year-old Misra, who arrived here on Saturday, talks about the upcoming tie, the players’ revolt and his six-year stay at the helm. Excerpts...
After a long gap of 28 years, Davis Cup is coming back to Bangalore. Your thoughts...
It’s very nice to have the Davis Cup back in Bangalore. Twenty-eight years back when India played Sweden, I’d come down from Hyderabad to watch the tie. I still remember KSLTA changing the clay courts to grass courts. We did put up a decent fight but at that time Sweden was quite superior to us. They were a formidable team, in fact the defending champions, and they beat us pretty comfortably in the end.
India are playing Indonesia who have never defeated us in five attempts. Moreover their players don’t boast of great pedigree. Do you think it would be a cakewalk for us?
No Davis Cup is a cakewalk and their No 1 player -- Christopher Rungkat -- is ranked 251. As of now, we are the favourites but still we need to get on court and get the job done. But, I believe we should win comfortably with the squad we have.
What is the likely make-up of the sqaud?
Somdev (Devvarman) will definitely play the first singles. The second slot will be a toss up between Yuki (Bhambri) and Sanam (Singh). Whoever does not play the second singles will team up with Leander (Paes) for the doubles.
Somdev and Yuki return to the squad after the selection row before the last tie. How is the harmony in the squad now?
We are yet find that out because the squad is yet to assemble. While Somdev, Yuki and Sanam are due to fly in today, Leander will arrive tomorrow. We are still practicing with the reserves and hitting partners. After they come, we’ll try to keep the atmosphere as calm as possible. That’s my job and I’ll do my best.
Somdev and Co don’t want you as the non-playing captain. How long do you intend to continue?
Possibly this is going to be my last tie. I’ve been the captain for six years and I really enjoyed every bit of my time. If the players want to change the captain and don’t have the confidence in me, I see no point in continuing. So, I don’t think I’ll continue after this tie.
Can you recall any good memories of your six-year association with the team?
We entered the World Group twice and the first time we did it, we re-entered the elite group after 11 years . It was a fantastic achievement. The stirring come-from-behind (World Group Playoff) 3-2 over Brazil in Chennai is also another highpoint. We were 2-0 down after the opening day and the boys played some incredible tennis to notch up a memorable win. That win brought back memories of the 1966 (Inter-Zonal Final) win over the same opponents. I was in the team with Jaideep Mukerjea and Ramanathan Krishnan and Ramanathan played brilliantly to win the deciding fifth rubber.
What are our chances of entering the elite World Group again?
It depends on the performance. Somdev was injured for a year and his tennis suffered during that time. However, he has come back well and got some great wins in the last couple of tournaments. So, if Yuki and Sanam support him well, we should reach that level sooner than later.
A Players’ Association meeting has been scheduled for Saturday. Do you think it could be a distraction for the team?
I don’t know how it is going to pan out and we need to face it. I’m not a member of that council and can’t really comment on what they’ve planned. I suppose when a big tournament takes place, all the top players are there and that’s the time when they would like to hold a meeting.