CHENNAI: India may have lost the World Group play-off against Serbia but that hasn’t stopped them from advancing for the 24-team Davis Cup finals qualifying tournament slated for next February. Ranked second in the Asia/Oceania segment (not counting Kazakhstan and Japan who have already advanced), India’s strong ranking points mean they cannot be caught by the other teams in their group. However, their limp performance against Serbia — after both singles players lost their respective rubbers on Friday, their doubles pair of Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni lost in straight sets — does have consequence. When the draw is made in September last week, India will be unseeded.
That means they can face the likes of Germany or Serbia themselves. This was confirmed by Mahesh Bhupathi himself. “Yes, I think we have qualified for it and that has meant the players have been able to play without any pressure,” he said.
If India had won their World Group play-off, something they haven’t done since 2010, they would have been a seeded team according to the International Tennis Federation (ITF). “The 12 seeded teams will be the four losing quarterfinalists and the eight winners of the 2018 World Group play-offs.” Meanwhile, France advanced to the final by winning their doubles rubber against Spain.
Interestingly, Bhupathi opted to pair Bopanna with reserve player Saketh Myneni instead of N Sriram Balaji, who was called up after Divij Sharan pulled out. As per All India Tennis Association, it was the captain’s call. “It must have been Bhupathi’s call after seeing how the two players performed in training,” an official told Express. The pair lost 6-7 (5), 2-6, 6-7 (4).