Tennis

The grass is green for India as they face underdogs Denmark in the Davis Cup

The grass is green for India as they face underdogs Denmark in the Davis Cup

Lawn tennis is a declining style in world tennis, but for India it provides a crucial advantage as they face Denmark in the World Group I play-off. draw on the grass courts of the Delhi Gymkhana, which will be held on March 4 and 5.

The last time they took this route – playing Italy on the grass courts of Calcutta South Club in February 2019 – the move backfired. India lost all three singles matches, including one to Davis Cup debutant Matteo Berrettini, who we now know is a rare young virtuoso on grass.

However, the grass should be greener against Denmark with several factors making India the clear favorites for the tie with the courts having the home advantage.

For starters, India’s singles challenge is led by Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan, whose playing styles are well suited and thrive on the fastest surface. Bhambri, 29, is returning to India after a long injury absence which cost him three of his best years. The former junior world number 1, who counts Queen’s as one of his favorite tournaments, plays fast and attacking tennis and his touch game can be maximized on the grass courts.

In his short stint on the ATP Tour since returning in January, he’s already shown glimpses of what he’s capable of, reaching the second round of the Maharashtra Open in a thriller and then beating this year’s champion , Joao Sousa, in Dubai. qualifiers.

Ramkumar’s great serve and volley game is ideal for grass courts as he has proven previously. Some of his best performances have come on grass, such as reaching the ATP 250 final in Newport in 2019, beating Dominic Thiem in Antalya in 2017 and making his Grand Slam doubles debut at Wimbledon in 2021.

“We also looked at the discomfort of the opponents. I’m sure if we had traveled to Denmark they wouldn’t have liked to face Ramkumar on grass courts. We also had a long chat with Yuki Bhambri and Rohan Bopanna and we all agreed grass is the best option,” non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal told the media.

“We are strong on the grass pitch, and that’s why we chose the venue. It’s a home advantage for us and I think on grass we have the best chance of beating Denmark.” , said Bopanna, quoted by PTI.

Besides Ramkumar and Bhambri, Prajnesh Gunneswaran is the substitute singles player, with the experienced doubles pair of Divij Sharan and Rohan Bopanna completing India’s five-member line-up for the World Group I clash. Victory will mean they will participate in the World Group I stage scheduled for later this year. India have never fallen into Group II before in the competition, and they are unlikely to do so this time.

Denmark are a depleted unit with their top ranked player, Holger Rune, retiring and no other players in the top 300. While India do not have a single player in the top 100 in singles, ( Ramkumar is India No. 1 at an ATP rank of 170), the highest ranked Dane is Mikael Torpegaard at 305 with the rest of the Danish squad below 800. The presence of doubles player Frederik Nielsen, a former Wimbledon doubles champion, who has a career ranking of 17 in doubles, will be a comfort.

This ranking gap between two players does not always mean much in the Davis Cup, India remembering it well from their previous outings against Finland and Croatia. Still, the experience and depth of the Indian players puts Denmark among the underdogs, a fact acknowledged by captain Nielsen.

Consider this: Bopanna is expected to play doubles with Sharan even though he has won two ATP titles this year with Ramkumar while reserve Saketh Myneni (600) is ranked higher than Denmark’s second-largest singles player Christian Sigsgaard (824) . The inclusion of crowds, a recent development as the country’s Covid situation improves, will be an added benefit for Indians.

Saturday’s tie will start with Ramkumar playing world No. 824 Christian Sigsgaard, followed by Bhambri – with a career-high 83 – playing Torpegaard, with a career-high 166. If things go as planned and the standings , the bankable double rubber will be the deciding point for India, instead of the solitary point it has been in the recent past. For once, old-school weed should be a weapon, even for the new-age team of former Davis Cup finalists India.