A chance to take big leap


The last time India entered the World Group was in 2011, where it lost to Serbia in the first round. Canada, seeded eighth, has World No 10 big-serving Milos Raonic in their ranks, but he has not played Davis Cup since his five-set loss to Kei Nishikori in 2015. Canada are seeking to maintain their place in the World Group following their first round defeat to Great Britain in February. They host India at the indoor stadium at Edmonton from September 15-17 in a first meeting between the two countries.

“I think this is the first time in last three years, that we have met an opponent (in play-offs) which is not from the top five teams in the world and we are not playing them at home! From that aspect, we see an opportunity and we will try to make the most of it. Of course, a lot depends on Milos Raonic playing,” India Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali told DH.

To prepare for the tie, the team will have a camp in New York from September 4-9. “We will be training at the Columbia University that has indoor stadium facility. Most of our players are in fact quite comfortable playing indoors,” he said.

The former Indian Davis Cupper was enthused by the recent form of India’s top singles players Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan. Ramkumar, 22, reached his first Tour-level quarterfinal in Antalya in June, defeating World No 8 Dominic Thiem on way, while Yuki, 25, reached the quarterfinals at Washington in early August where he beat World No 21 Gael Monfils.

“It is thrilling to see the two perform so well. Yuki was always considered to be a top-100 player, all he now needs to do is remain injury free. Ram was known to have the potential to do bigger things and with such wins he would have that confidence he needed,” he said.

Zeeshan also appreciated the influence of new Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi who had guided the team past Uzbekistan 4-1 in previous tie in Bengaluru.

“I think it’s great to have Mahesh as captain. He has put in certain rules and regulations which I feel will help Indian tennis in the longer run-be it the priority on fitness tests or even arranging this camp in New York for preparation. The boys, too, have responded positively,” he said.

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