BENGALURU: Denis Istomin's pullout has left the Uzbek team with no option but to go in with the remaining most experienced campaigner Farrukh Dustov, who has just recovered from a hand injury.
Dustov, who broke into the top 100 in singles in 2015, has not been on the tour since August last year. He last featured in the Davis Cup tie against Switzerland last September. But the 30-year-old feels he is ready to spearhead his team in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group I second round tie against India, although it would be a difficult job to pull off without Denis Istomin.
“It will be tougher now, no doubt. But I also didn't play against South Korea, although everyone expected. It's tennis and injuries go hand in hand. We have to be ready. But there is no pressure on the junior players or on me,” he said.
He feels everyone has to share the responsibility in the absence of their star player. “It's not just my responsibility but of all others in the team to fill his void. The player in the best condition should play the singles rubbers and it's up to the captain. We can think of the doubles combination on that day,” he said.
Although captain Petr Lebed would decide the combinations, Dustov believes it would be difficult for the inexperienced players to play in such conditions. “Here, it's not easy to play. We have a different altitude and we should play smart. (Sanjar) Fayziev is improving every year and I think he is ready to play. But Temur (Ismailov) hasn't played a Davis Cup match so it would be a test for him,” he said.
Apart from the conditions, young players (Prajnesh Gunneswaran, N Sriram Balaji and Ismailov) in both squads are yet to play a five-setter tie. Dustov believes they have to step in and experience such things as injury may sideline any of the experienced players in future. “I think it's more physical than mental to play a five-setter. They have to get into the groove once the match begins. But injuries can happen anytime and they have to be ready,” he said.