India handed a tough challenge

Tennis: Davis Cup

Unseeded India made the World Group after their convincing 4-1 win over South Africa on Sunday while Russia lost by the same margin to Israel in the World Group quarterfinal.
India’s non-playing captain SP Misra admitted that the draw, made at Geneva, Switzerland, is tough.

“It will be tough. I have heard that it’s freezing cold at that time there and they will play us on clay in an indoor court. That surface does not suit us. Also, the tie will happen shortly after the Australian Open and it will be tough for us to adapt from the hard courts to clay. But we have five months to prepare, we will take care of all these things,” Misra said.

Misra said they were hoping for a home tie but luck did not favour them. “We have played two away ties. Against Chinese Taipei and then South Africa. We were hoping for a home tie but we can’t do much. It’s okay,” he said. Last time India competed in the World Group was in 1998 when they lost to Italy. India have thrice made the final of Davis Cup but have never won the title.

Nadal-Federer clash likely
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer could go head to head in the first round after Spain were drawn to face Switzerland. The Czech Republic, who will meet Spain in this year's final of the team event, face Belgium. Argentina travel to Sweden while the United States have been drawn away to Serbia. Israel, beaten by Spain in the semifinals last week, tackle Chile.

Federer recovered from his shock defeat against Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open final to win both his singles in Switzerland's 3-2 defeat of Italy in a World Group playoff last weekend. The 15-times grand slam champion has never faced Nadal in Davis Cup action and the prospect of facing the Mallorcan in Spain could persuade Federer to make himself available for the first round in March.

Neither he nor Nadal played in the first round tie between the nations in 2007 when Spain won 3-2. "I truly enjoy playing for my country but I'll also have to see where I have my priorities for next season," Federer said after victory over Italy. "Of course, there are the grand slams but there is also number one, which is a bit of a dilemma. Like in the other years, I will see after the Australian Open how I feel and if I play the first round." Waiting in round two for the winners of the tie will be either Germany or France.

Davis Cup ties
* Russia vs India
* Spain vs Switzerland
* Germany vs France
* Argentina vs Sweden
* Ecuador vs Croatia
* Serbia vs United States
* Chile vs Israel
* Belgium vs Czech Republic
First round ties will be played from March 5-7, 2010.

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