No change in Davis squad

No change in Davis squad

India will field an unchanged side for their Davis Cup World Group play-off tie against five-time champions Spain at the R K Khanna Stadium here from September 16 to 18.

With India’s leading singles players Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri still nursing injuries, the All India Tennis Association has done no tinkering to the side that beat South Korea on the grasscourts of Chandigarh Club last month.

Saketh Myneni, who made it to the main draw of the US Open before going down fighting to World No 49 Jiri Vesely of Czech Republic, will be the top singles player for India at 143. Ramkumar Ramanathan, who made his Davis Cup debut against Korea, will be the second singles player. Veterans Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna will be shouldering the responsibility in doubles.  In reserves, Prajnesh Guneswaran will replace Vishnu Vardhan to join Sumit Nagal.

With Spain featuring 12 top-100 players in their ranks, including multiple Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal, India will have their task cut out for the tie, which would be held under floodlights. The move to hold the tie under lights would negate the heat factor which the Indians have played to their advantage in previous ties but it has been learnt the decision was purely AITA’s. The organisers have slotted the evening time to attract more spectators.

With the slow centre court also favouring the Spaniards, it was learnt the selectors tried to explore the option of using court one, which is on the quicker side, but it didn’t meet the seating requirements for a World Group play-off tie.

India’s coach Zeeshan Ali admitted his team will have to play out of their skins to match-up to the visitors. “As for the floodlights, I feel the Spaniards are professionals and heat would never be a factor for them. And as we saw against Korea, even our players were cramping up. So it will be beneficial for us also. It is unfortunate that for the third time in a row we have got such a tough tie at the play-off stage,” Zeeshan said.

The squad: Saketh Myneni, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes; Reserves: Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sumit Nagal; Non-playing captain: Anand Amritraj. Coach: Zeeshan Ali.

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