Singles will decide India’s Davis Cup fate

March 5th, 2009 - 9:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Kaohsiung (Chinese Taipei), March 5 (IANS) India’s chances of winning their Davis Cup tennis Asia-Oceania Group I tie against Chinese Taipei, starting here Friday, hinge on the singles.
Indian tennis’ new poster boy Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna will be psychologically buoyed by the comforting thought that the world’s top doubles players Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi would win the doubles.

If India have to win two singles then they will have to target Chine Taipei’s second singles player as their number one player Lu Yen-hsun is world number 59 and had created a sensation beating world number 12 David Nalabandian of Argentina in the second round at the Australian Open.

To make the contest fair, there is little to choose between the second rung players of both the countries as Rohan Bopanna is ranked 320 and Ti Chen 365.

However, in Davis Cup, the rankings mean little as Paes has proved by beating top-ranked players so often. So, it would be a folly to dismiss Chen merely on the basis of his ranking as he defeated World No. 180 Yuri Schukin to give Taipei an unassailable 3-1 lead in a 4-1 victory over the visiting Kazakhstan in the previous round last month.

For India the good news is that Bopanna had beaten Lu in their last meeting in the team event at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, though India lost the tie 1-2. Also, Bopanna is 2-1 in head-to-head against Lu over the last two years.

As for India’s doubles pair, Paes and Bhupathi are in prime form. The two swapped ranks this week, Paes climbing to sixth and Bhupathi slipping to seventh and both have some good victories under their belt on the Tour. They should have little problem in dealing with Tsung-Hua Yang and Chu-Huan Yi.

Somdev sounded confident of pulling the tie off, though, he says it will not be easy.

“Our preparation has been good. We have put in some really good hitting sessions. Rohan and I have been hitting well and we feel good going into the tie. We are working hard and and now it all boils down to executing our plans on the match day,” Somdev told IANS.

“I think this is a very competitive tie and could go either way. We have to be at our best to beat them.”

“Beating a few top players at the Chennai Open was definetly a big boost to my career. It made my belief even stronger that I belong there with the big boys and I can compete with them.”

Somdev said team will benefit by Rohan’s experience in the Davis Cup.

“Rohan did very well in singles at the Chennai Open. He qualified for the main draw by beating some really good players. Rohan also has a lot of experience of playing singles in the Davis Cup.”

India had reached the World Group play-off last year, for the first time since 2005, and if they win here they could play Australia at home.

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