India cannot rely on heat alone in Davis Cup tie against Czech Republic: Anand Amritraj

first_imgDavis Cup campaigns in the past at home revolved around how best the grass courts would be prepared. Be it the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association complex or the lush green and wellmanicured lawns at the South Club in Calcutta (Kolkata now), the uncertainty factor played an important role.During the Vijay and Anand Amritraj era, the players liked the surface to be as close as possible to true bounce and once the baton was passed to Leander Paes, he ensured the court bounce was low and the ball would skid.The sensational ties which Leander figured in at home along with Ramesh Krishnan and later Mahesh Bhupathi were notable for how the surface was prepared.Times have changed. Since the time Leander stopped playing singles in Davis Cup and Somdev Devvarman started leading the campaign, hard courts were preferred. Unlike Leander, Somdev and Yuki Bhambri are more comfortable on the hard courts as they grind out point from the back court and mid court.Davis Cup non-playing captain Anand Amritraj has accepted this change as something natural. “Those days are gone….the serve and volley game has become a dead art all over the world. Our players also like that. Somdev is a counterpuncher, while Yuki is an aggressive baseline player. Like modern day players, they are not comfortable on grass,” said 63-year-old Anand from Chennai.Anand has fond memories of the DLTA complex where he and Vijay figured in many historic wins, the most notable one being the win against Argentina in 1987.advertisementNostalgia is fine but Anand is aware there is a mountain of a challenge ahead against the Czech Republic in the World Group playoff to be held from September 18 to 20.He is pleased the Indians are doing well in doubles at the US Open. And with Rohan Bopanna and 42-year-old superstar Leander Paes still in rock and roll mode, Anand is happy the doubles point could be in India’s favour in such a big tie.”As it is, I am happy to have Leander in the team. Both Leander and Rohan (Bopanna) are in good form and that is encouraging news,” he said.But Anand was quick to add winning singles rubbers was the main concern against the strong opponents to whom India lost in February 1997 in Pribram, near Prague, in a World Group first round tie.”If we trail 0-2 at the end of the first day, then all that the doubles pair can do is keep the tie alive till Sunday. I would think it is important we try and win at least one singles on Friday,” said Anand.The good news for India is World No.6 Tomas Berdych has pulled out as he wants to focus on his own career. But the rest in fray from Czech Republic are also strong. “Berdych’s absence could be a relief but we can’t call it a level-playing field. We remain the underdogs. They have two players in Jiri Vesely and Lukas Rasol, both of them figure in the top 100 in the world ranking,” was Anand’s assessment.Yuki Bhambri is ranked 145 and Somdev (Devvarman) is 152 in the ranking. Ideally, to play the World Group, a team should have two strong singles players, one in top 50 and the other in top 100,” said Anand, who commands huge respect from the players. “Unless we have two players like this in the squad, we would be forced to return to the zonal group (Asia Oceania) every time we reach the World Group play-off,” he said. Vesely is ranked World No. 48 and Rasol is 87.The weather would be a big factor as the heat and humidity will be energy sapping. “It would be very hot and that could be to our advantage. Starting at 10 am, the temperature should be around 32 or 33 degree. Later, the mercury would rise to 37 or 38 degree. The Czechs might not feel too comfortable with the heat and humidity. It is now up to us whether we can take advantage of it,” Anand [email protected]last_img read more

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