CHENNAI: The Indian Davis Cup squad brought back the experience of Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni for the World Group Play-offs tie at Canada from September 15. One guy who did not make the six-team squad was the veteran Leander Paes. Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who made his debut against Uzbekistan earlier in the year, and Sriram Balaji, complete the line-up alongside Ramkumar Ramanathan and Rohan Bopanna. Even though the squad will be trimmed to four — Bhambri, Myneni, Ramkumar and Rohan Bopanna — the two reserves will be travelling to Edmonton for the tie.
Myneni, who did not play for nearly seven months after the Australian Open, made the cut on the basis of ability to both singles as well as doubles. And the big-serving, Vizag lad is confident that India will put up a good show against Canada, who may be without Milos Raonic (he last played in the competition in 2015). “I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he told Express. “It’ll be a good opportunity for all of us and our boys have been playing well on Tour. Hope we can advance to the World Group.” He also sounded positive on the fitness front. “I’ll help the team in whatever way I can (playing on all three days if the need arises).”
On previous occasions, ties of this magnitude may have been a foregone conclusion but now there is optimism. Both the main singles players have beaten classy opponents (Ramanathan beat Dominic Thiem in Turkey before Bhambri beat Gael Monfils in Washington) and India coach Zeeshan Ali hopes to tap into that well of confidence. “I think two singles players who have done well recently have gained a lot of confidence ahead of the tie. I think our chances are pretty good.”
Door still open for Paes
It’s no surprise that Paes, who hasn’t set the Tour on fire this year, was overlooked by the selection committee headed by SP Misra. However, Ali said the door was open for him. “I don’t think the door is closed on him for many reasons,” he said. “It’s all a question of him getting back into the rankings and there is no reason why he cannot be selected going forward.”