Willing to shoulder the burden, says Myneni

Willing to shoulder the burden, says Myneni

Tennis Davis Cup

Willing to shoulder the burden, says Myneni

After roughing it out on the courts of R K Khanna Stadium, Saketh Myneni changed his sweat-soaked T-shirt.

Before he could slip into a fresh piece, his meticulously taped right shoulder drew instant attention. As depleted India gear up to host five-time champions Spain for the World Group play-off tie from Friday, a lot will be riding on this shoulder of Saketh.

“Something is always wrong with it, everything is never right,” Saketh joked when inquired about his shoulder, adding:“It is fine, just need to keep it fresh.”

With Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri out of action due to injuries, Saketh has been donning the hat of India’s top singles players. But with Rohan Bopanna also pulling out of the tie due to injury, the responsibility of playing in the doubles with seasoned Leander Paes, might also fall in the lap of Saketh. The 28-year-old, who fitness levels have been questioned off late, said he was ready for any role.

“If the body permits me and if I am doing well, definitely I will do that. I just want to prepare myself for whatever my team wants me to do, playing singles, doubles, anything, even giving water bottles in the changeover, I will do it,” Saketh, ranked 117, said after the team’s first training session on Sunday evening.

“Playing back-to-back matches at the US Open a few weeks back was my biggest challenge. I did manage myself better. Even after I finished my match, unfortunately I went out with cramps, but next day I was walking fine. I am getting better, still learning, still finding ways to get my body better.”

Saketh said India would be going into the tie as ‘strong underdogs.’ “It is going to be a tough challenge for us. But I can assure you that we’re going in as strong underdogs.

“Hopefully we can challenge them until the last second. Even though the scores could be up and down but you would know that you still competed and left it all out there. Hopefully we have a big crowd coming over the weekend.”

To rope in the crowd, the organisers have shifted the matches to the evening, much against the norm of hosting the opposition teams during the heat of daytime. Saketh, however, was up for the challenge to play under the lights. “Playing at home is the key thing for me, it doesn’t matter what conditions you play, you have to find ways to do it.”

The Hyderabadi said he wasn’t surprise at Spain arriving with their best team, including 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, for the tie.

“Nadal loves playing for his team, doesn’t matter wherever he is, he always been a part of the team. We have been fighting to enter the Davis Cup World Group in last three years. It will happen. If not this year, then the coming ones.”

So how does he view the prospect of playing Nadal? “You still have to be mentally and physically strong going into the match and you want to play to your strength,” he said and continued, “You don’t want to change something completely thinking about him at other side of the net. You still have to play your style of game and have to manage your side of the court, emotionally and physically and mentally.”

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