Sports Tennis 05 Apr 2017 Mahesh Bhupathi targ ...

Mahesh Bhupathi targets the World Group

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SANDEEP MENON
Published Apr 5, 2017, 12:57 am IST
Updated Apr 5, 2017, 1:04 am IST
India were never a team brimming with talent, at least as far as the last few decades are concerned.
Sriram Balaji (left) and Rohan Bopanna (right) at a training session in Bengaluru on Tuesday, ahead of their Davis Cup Group I tie against Uzbekistan. (Photo: Shashidhar B)
 Sriram Balaji (left) and Rohan Bopanna (right) at a training session in Bengaluru on Tuesday, ahead of their Davis Cup Group I tie against Uzbekistan. (Photo: Shashidhar B)

Bengaluru: If there is one thing that the Indians bring to the sporting arena, it is passion. Transfer that theory onto the tennis court, and the answer to how India has done what it has in Davis Cup, will become clear.

India was never a team brimming with talent, at least as far as the last few decades are concerned. Nor was it one blessed with an outstanding player who could carry them over the line.

 

For India, it was always about passion. Pepper that with grit and hard work, then you have the team’s soul. As the hosts get ready to face Uzbekistan in the Davis Cup Group I tie, it’s the same passion that captain Mahesh Bhupathi looks to ride on, from his young, inexperienced team which includes the likes of Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sriram Balaji. All of whom, still rather untested in the five-set format which often plays as the deciding factor.

Speaking at the media conference before the tie, Bhupathi said: “Fatigue goes out of the window when you’re playing Davis Cup. We have got so many people pushing you and you’ve got the captain screaming at you,” said Bhupathi.

 

“There’s no way you’re going to throw in the towel. You are going to find a way to get through the match, whether win or lose. After that, most of the time, you pass out in the locker room.”

When asked about his expectation as the non playing captain, the former Grand Slam champion gave a blueprint of his plans.

“I think the main goal is trying to get everyone to believe that we can win and get back into the World Group. We have a young group of kids who finally have the ability to play on multiple surfaces. All three boys have the ability to serve 130 mph which I think in today’s power tennis is a big advantage. I think creating team atmosphere and constantly work on a squad of six so we can pick players depending on the surface and opposition,” said the entrepreneur.

 

Dominance in the past
During his playing days, when the non playing captain teamed with Leander Paes in the doubles, India started the tie virtually 1-0 up. Such was their dominance.

But those days are are practically non-existent as India have struggled to find the right combination or even win what was once their ace in the hole.

“We’ve always fielded what we thought was our best pair. You win some and you lose some. We (Leander and me) won 22 in a row so it doesn’t mean the legacy is going to continue. The Davis Cup is about winning three points, not one point.

 

The focus needs to be on how we are going to win three points,” explained the 42-year-old adding that there has been a decline in specialist doubles players in general.

Having already said that he will go in with three singles players and one specialist doubles man, speculation on whether it will be Paes or Rohan Bopanna has been running high.

“The conditions here are fast and we have some big servers on our team so we need to make the best of the conditions, (consider) the opposition and obviously the camaraderie. Once we put all those together, the team will come together,” he stated on the issue.

 

With Paes set to arrive on Wednesday following his Challenger win in Mexico, Bhupathi was curt on how it affects the team’s preparation as he left it with just a “it’s not ideal, that’s for sure.”

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