CHENNAI: With the Davis Cup World Group Playoffs less than two months away, India requires all the help it can get to stand a chance against the might of Spain. The sole on-paper advantage the hosts can hope to exploit is preparing a grass court. It is the Spaniards’ weakest surface by consensus, even though Feliciano Lopez, should he choose to play, comes to life thereon.
But, there are other things to consider as well. According to Davis Cup rules, the home team has 20 days after the draw, held on July 19, to inform ITF on their choice of venue. The lack of time and options could force them to choose a hard court instead, further diminishing the team’s chances. Officials are working on it, but sources have conceded grass may be difficult because it rains in most parts this time of the year.
Speaking to Express, India skipper Anand Amritraj revealed certain potential venues had been rejected, but still harboured hope that grass would be available. “As of now, Kolkata and Jaipur are out of contention. The AITA is trying its best to make sure a grass court is available to contest the tie, but there’s an additional requirement — World Group Playoff matches require stands that can house about 4000 spectators,” Amritraj said.
While arenas in New Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai have stands with that capacity, a majority of those cater to hard courts. The Delhi Gymkhana Club has grass courts, but its proximity to the Prime Minister’s residence might create a security issue.
Even though grass is the original surface the sport was played on, its maintenance costs are much higher than those of hard and clay courts. Grass courts are not usable all year round, must be watered/mowed often and take longer to dry after rain (if they’re uncovered).