Acid test for India`s young players against Serbia

Novi Sad: India`s young brigade, led
by Somdev Devvarman, faces a stiff test of nerve and ability
as it takes on top seed and defending champion Serbia in the
Davis Cup World Group first round here, from Friday.

As if the tough opponents in their own den was not
enough, India would miss the ever-reliable doubles duo of
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi due to injuries.

It just makes the job for the Indian youngsters a lot
more tough against a side, which boasts of World number three
and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, top-20 player
Viktor Troicki, number 45 Janko Tipsaveric and Nenad Zimonjic,
a very formidable doubles player, featuring in top-five.

Djokovic is still undecided about playing the tie
following his title win in Dubai but even without him Serbia
has the class to outplay India.

Somdev played against world number two and Swiss legend
Roger Federer in Dubai, losing in the opening round.

There is no comparison between the two sides and in the
absence of Paes and Bhupathi, securing even one rubber out of
five, would be considered a big achievement.

Yet again India`s best chance of winning a rubber remains
Somdev, who of late has been in good touch. He made his second
ATP final in Johannesburg and jumped back into the top-100.

Rohan Bopanna has also done well in Davis Cup for India
in the last few ties but this time around he will have to
shoulder the responsibility of guiding the side in the doubles

He has the experience of playing big matches but does not
have a strong partner to support.

Captain S P Misra and coach Nandan Bal hardly have strong
options and most likely it will be either Somdev or Rastogi
who will join forces with Bopanna.

It does not look like that Bhambri and Rastogi will get a
chance to play until the fourth rubber. If the tie is decided
on the second day itself, in favour of the hosts, Yuki and
Rastogi may get to play for exposure.

Serbia and India are locked 1-1 in Davis Cup records.
India had defeated Yugoslavia 3-0 in an away tie in 1927 and
lost 2-3 at home in New Delhi in 1988.

India secured its place in the elite 16 for the second
straight year after defeating Brazil 3-2 in the play-offs in

Serbia has defeated France 3-2, overcoming a 0-2 deficit
to be crowned champions for the first time.


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