Edmonton, September 14
India will expect Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan to repeat their recent giant-killing acts against Denis Shapovalov when the team takes on Canada in its fourth straight attempt to qualify for the Davis Cup World Group from tomorrow. Shapovalov made the world take note of him with his shock win over Rafael Nadal at the Montreal Masters. He then became the youngest player to reach the fourth round of the US Open, only his second Grand Slam. The 18-year-old and world No. 51 Shapovalov has also scalped Juan Martin del Potro and Jo Wilfred Tsonga in the last few months.
On the other hand, India’s hopes rest with Bhambri and Ramanathan, who too created a splash by knocking down Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem recently.
Of late, Bhambri (world No. 157) and Ramanathan (world No. 154) have shown encouraging results and thus raise the hope that they are capable of pulling off a win over the left-handed Shapovalov. In his recent wins, Bhambri has shown that he can control the game and overcome nerves when faced with crunch situations. Ramanathan with his big serve and ever-improving fitness also gives India confidence.
Tackling Vasek Pospisil, the other singles player named by Canada, should not be a big problem for Bhambri and Ramananthan. He might be higher-ranked than the Indians at world No. 82 but he is coming into the tie after five straight losses on the ATP Tour, the last being in the first round of the US Open.
Bhambri played against him in 2014 when he lost to the Canadian in the quarterfinals of the Chennai Open while Ramanathan has never played against him.
But Pospisil won both his singles matches when Canada hosted the Great Britain in the World Group first round in February this year.
If Bhambri and Ramanathan can get one point on Day One, it will make a huge difference to the tie.
For the doubles tie, Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni, who recently recovered from a foot injury, make a formidable pairing. On the other side of the net would be the seasoned Daniel Nestor and Pospisil or Bradley Schnur, who is yet to play his debut Davis Cup match.
It is the fourth straight year that the Indian team is knocking the World Group door, having lost to Serbia (2014 in Bengaluru), Czech Republic (2015, New Delhi) and Spain (2016, New Delhi) in the play-offs in the last three years.
India last played in the World Group in March 2011 when they were crushed 4-1 by defending champions Serbia. If the players deliver and guide the country to the elite 16-nation World Group, it will be a memorable achievement for Mahesh Bhupathi in only his second tie as captain after taking over from Anand Amritraj. — PTI
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