CHENNAI: With just a few days to go for the Davis Cup World Group Playoffs against an exceptional Spain side, one half of Team India — Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan — enjoyed its first hit at the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday evening. The other half — 18-time Grand Slam winner Leander Paes and debutant Sumit Nagal — is expected to reach the capital on Monday, much like visiting matadors Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez.
While skipper Anand Amritraj had previously stated that the evening session wouldn’t suit the hosts, he and coach Zeeshan Ali were pleasantly surprised by the speed of the hard court and balmy weather conditions. Reserve player Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who won an ITF Futures title in Chennai on Saturday evening, was also present but didn’t practice due to fatigue.
Speaking to Express, Amritraj suggested the court’s speed is medium-fast, rather than slow like last September, as it has been played on quite a bit this year without being resurfaced. “The court is playing quicker and the weather is pleasant... things are better than I thought they would be. Sumit will come from Italy and Leander will arrive from Mumbai, but Saketh and Ramkumar were hitting the ball crisply and that’s encouraging, to say the least. The aim is to make the matches interesting, so I hope we’re able to do so,” he opined.
Ali, who also hit with the two singles players, agreed with the captain’s viewpoint before revealing that the doubles team, aside from Paes, hadn’t been finalised yet. “We had a training session and the court’s pretty quick, just like we had hoped. We haven’t decided the doubles line-up just yet, that’ll become clear in the next couple of days. Unlike singles, the doubles squad can be changed two hours before the match starts, so that gives us more options,” Ali revealed.
Myneni, who played for his first-ever Grand Slam main draw match at the US Open, said he was looking to extend his run of good form. “I’m feeling positive about my game at the moment and, hopefully, I’ll pick up from where I left off in New York. I played here during the ATP Challenger in mid-February and the surface always plays the same. Playing under lights is always a bit tricky, but the hit with Ramkumar and Zeeshan went well,” the World No 143 noted.
It may be too much to expect a magical outing for the Boys in Blue, but mini-positives like speed and conditions can go a long way in building up the side’s confidence.