Davis Cup: Somdev to lead India’s challenge against Japan

August 19th, 2011 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Davis Cup New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) India Friday retained the same squad that lost the World Group Davis Cup tie to Serbia in March for the play-off against Japan Sep 16-18 in Tokyo.

Somdev Devvarman will lead the challenge with Rohan Bopanna as the second singles player and Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi teaming up for the doubles. Karan Rastogi and Vishnu Vardhan are the other members of the squad.

A meeting of the All India Tennis Association (AITA) selection committee, chaired by Anil Dhupar and attended by Rohit Rajpal and Balram Singh, met here Thursday to select the squad.

Former Davis Cupper and now non-playing captain S.P. Misra said the top Indian players are all in good touch and there is no reason why they should not beat Japan.

Misra, the co-chairman of the selection committee, could not come to Delhi for the meeting but took part in the deliberations in a tele-conference.

Misra told IANS from Hyderabad that the Indians should be happy to be playing the tie on hard court and outdoors, though the top three Japanese players are doing well on the Tour.

“Japan’s leading player Kei Nishikori is ranked in the 50s (his current ranking is 52)and there is little to choose between him and Somdev. The other top Japanese singles players Tatsuma Ito and Go Soeda are hovering around 100 in the rankings and doing well on the circuit. But a Davis Cup tie is a different ball game and rankings scarcely matter in five-set rubbers.”

Ito is currently ranked 128 and Soeda 123 whereas Bopanna is essentially a doubles player with a career-best ranking of nine while he is in the 600s in the singles. The Indian, however, is in the squad as singles player with a decent Davis Cup record.

Karan Rastogi is fresh from winning an ITF Futures at Astana, Kazakhstan, over the weekend. He beat Egyptian Mohamed Safwat 6-1, 6-2 after winning a tough semi-final against Czech Republic’s third seed Roman Jebavy 7-6(6), 6-4.

India and Japan have clashed 21 times with India way ahead head-to-head winning 18 of the ties. When they met last in the Asia-Oceania Group I semifinal in New Delhi, India beat them 3-2 in 2008.

India lost to Japan when they met last in Osaka in 2004, but in 2001 they beat them in Tokyo.

India lost their last World Group first round tie to Serbia 1-4 at Novi Sad and are back to qualifiers.

The Team: Somdev Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Karan Rastogi and Vishnu Vardhan

Non-Playing Captain: S.P. Misra

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