Knee injury rules Yuki out

Tennis Davis Cup: It's a huge blow for the team, says skipper Bhupathi

Knee injury rules Yuki out
India’s Davis Cup side suffered a blow on Sunday as Yuki Bhambri pulled out with an inflamed knee four days before his team takes on Uzbekistan here.

Yuki, India’s leading singles player, suffered the injury while playing on the Challenger circuit in China three weeks ago and he hasn’t recovered well enough to compete in the April 7-9 tie.

With the latest blow, non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi was left with another selection conundrum as Vishnu Vardhan, Saketh Myneni and Sumit Nagal had previously been sidelined.

“It is a huge blow to us as Yuki is the backbone of the team and we were really counting on him being here. Now we’re going to have to re-strategise,” said Bhupathi during India’s first practice session at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association courts.

Bhupathi will have to choose his team from Sriram Balaji, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Ramkumar Ramanathan and the experienced Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna, who have been named as reserves. But the 42-year-old ruled out the option of having two specialist doubles players, calling it too big a risk.

“There’s no chance I can do that. It is too big a risk to take. Prajnesh and Bala (Sriram Balaji) have never played Davis Cup before and playing five sets is not an easy task, we can’t have them getting sore or injured.” he added, also stating that none of his doubles players was equipped to win a singles tie.

Bhupathi, who will be making his debut as non-playing captain, also recognised the threat Uzbekistan could pose through World No 70 Denis Istomin, who is yet to arrive after suffering a minor knock during his first round exit at the Miami Open.

“We are keeping a keen eye on the Uzbeks and how they are handling the altitude. Of course, he’s a big threat so the fewer matches he plays, the better it will be for us. That being said, Farrukh Dustov has been playing Davis Cup for about ten years now and is vastly experienced. We just need to prepare the best we can in this situation.”

Barring Paes, who is expected to arrive in the city in the next couple of days after his doubles triumph in a Challenger in Mexico, the remainder of the squad trained under the watchful eyes of Bhupathi and coach Zeeshan Ali.

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