Bengaluru: With the decision to drop Leander Paes from the Indian squad for the Uzbekistan tie raising eyebrows, non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi stressed that his decision was made in keeping with the conditions.
With the four named in the squad possessing strong serves, a weapon Paes lacks, and the court playing fast, Bhupathi revealed that, while definitely not an easy decision, this factor played a major part in his choice.
“The conditions here are really fast so we are going into the tie with four very big servers. All four boys here can serve at 130+ miles an hour so we want to take advantage of the conditions, Bhupathi said.
“It obviously was a tough decision. I was pretty clear from the start that I wanted three singles players and one doubles specialist. A couple of boys on the team have never played before, they haven't played long matches and they haven't played under Davis Cup stress situation. Going in with a specialist doubles team would have been a high-risk situation,” he added.
While most of the teams across the world adhere to similar strategy in Davis Cup due to dearth in genuine specialist doubles players, the 42-year-old also gave his reason for choosing Rohan Bopanna over Paes.
“Sriram Balaji and Bopanna have been playing a lot of sets (in practice). Unfortunately for Leander, yesterday (Wednesday) was his first day and he played three games before it started raining. So throwing Leander and Bala in would have been another roll of the dice for me,” he said.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan captain Petr Lebed was bullish about their chances as well. “Indian team is strong but we believe in our team. We were expecting this combination itself. We are getting used to the weather and condition of the courts,” he remarked.