Young guns in spotlight

Young guns in spotlight

Young guns in spotlight

One major factor that could decide the outcome of the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group I second round tie between India and Uzbekistan is the players’ ability to handle long-drawn affairs.

The sun has been beating down hard and with Uzbekistan’s main hope Denis Istomin too withdrawing due to a leg injury, both the camps are loaded with players with hardly any experience of playing in the testing best-of-five setters. While for India only Ramkumar Ramanathan (6 matches) has played in Davis Cup before (Prajnesh Gunneswaran and N Sriram Balaji will be making their debut), Farrukh Dustov is the only battle hardened soldier in the Uzbek camp now. Sanjar Fayziev and Temur Ismailov have only played a combined seven matches in total.

Despite having two debutantes in his team, Indian captain Mahesh Bhupathi sounded positive, saying the guys were fit and raring to give it their all. “These guys are fit, so it shouldn’t be an issue at all. Fatigue goes out of the window when you are playing Davis Cup. We have got so many people pushing you and you’ve got the captain screaming at you. There’s no way you are going to throw in the towel. You are going to find a way to get through the match, whether win or lose. After that, most of the time, you pass out in the locker room,” Bhupathi said during a media interaction at the KSLTA courts on Tuesday.

“These guys have been training and practising for 20 years of their life to play for their country. To draw a parallel fitness has never been my forte. I’ve played 14 or 15 sets over a weekend in Davis Cup. When the adrenaline kicks in and the team is behind you, things just take shape.”

Dustov, who has shouldered Uzbekistan’s responsibilities for over a decade now, too felt the pride of playing for the country brings the best out of all the players regardless of their experience.

“Davis Cup is something different. You can say it’s a different sport altogether. You don’t play for yourself, you play for the country. In any case, you have to consider it important part of the career. If you keep striving under pressure, you will do well and if you don’t keep the pressure (on the opponent), you will crack at certain points. It’s important to believe in yourself and give everything you have on the court.

“I like to play the Davis Cup because there’s a lot of pressure and handling that pressure makes me stronger. Once you are there on the court, you have to play and fight for it no matter who the opponent is.”

Ramkumar, who in all likelihood will be entrusted with leading the singles attack, felt the players are all charged up for the clash this weekend where a win will see India gain promotion to World Group play-off.  “It's always a good feeling to be playing for India, it doesn't matter if it's the first or second (match). I think we can do well. We have to give our best. Prajnesh is also doing really well, he's done well in the last few weeks. We have Balaji, so I think it's going to be good.”
DH News Service