Heat & pressure on Czechs, feels Indian Davis Cup team

New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) The Indian tennis team, led by captain Anand Amritraj, believes that the heat and pressure will be on the visiting Czech Republic team when the two sides clash at the Davis Cup World Group Playoff at the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) Complex here from September 18 to 20.

“This particular tie, the pressure is on them. They are the favourites. They have to beat us and with the conditions and everything else, the pressure is entirely on their shoulders,” non-playing captain Amritraj said here on Tuesday.

The Indian team comprises of singles specialists Yuki Bhambri, Somdev Devvarman and doubles aces Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes, who is reaching here on Wednesday morning.

“As far as the heat goes, it is definitely going to be a factor. It is going to be 37-38 degrees in the afternoon so to concentrate physically and mentally for three sets is not going to be easy no matter how fit you are. If Novak Djokovic came and played here, he too would be struggling as well,” added the 63-year-old.

Amritraj admitted that the absence of top Czech player Tomas Berdych, ranked No.5 in the world, has come as a relief for the home team.

“Obviously, we are relieved and hopeful because with Berdych it would have been almost out of our reach but now we have a much better chance. Having said that, one of their guys is still ranked in top-50, another in top-100 and you have Radek Stepanek in doubles. So it is going to be tough,” added Amritraj.

The Czech team, ranked No.1 in the world, comprises of the veteran Stepanek, World No.40 Jiri Vesely, World No.84 Lukas Rosol and Adam Pavladesk.

A vital cog in the team, Bhambri is responsible for helping India reach the Playoff by winning both his singles rubbers in the Group 1 Asia/Oceania second round match against New Zealand in July. The Delhi boy also won an ATP Challenger tournament last week in Shanghai which has given him a lot confidence coming here.

“If you are winning a tournament means you are playing well and if you are playing well you are obviously confident. You want to put your best foot forward when it comes to Davis Cup. I had a good last week and the conditions were sort of similar. So hopefully I can continue doing well here as well,” said Bhambri, who at 125 is India’s highest ranked singles player.

“We are not the favourites. We have to play well to beat them but playing at home makes a lot of difference. I have grown up here, I know the courts and used to it. Somdev too enjoys playing in Delhi so hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”

Doubles has always been India’s forte with players like Paes, Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi. However, this time around the Czechs also boast of a top doubles player, Stepanek, who has won two Grand Slam doubles titles, both with Paes.

“First of all we don’t even know who is playing the doubles match. Radek may be playing but we are not sure who he will be playing with. Whether it is Lukas or Vesely, they are going to be a tough team. They have not just been in the World Group but won it twice,” said Bopanna.

“We just have to play our best tennis. We have done it in the past and rankings don’t matter in Davis Cup. The situation, pressure, heat, everything also comes into play. It depends on which player controls all this and plays well on that day. We have a great shot of getting back into the World Group.”

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