India hope for 2-0 lead against Brazil on Davis Cup opening day

Chennai: Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna today refused to be intimidated by the superior ranking of their rivals and exuded confidence of giving India a 2-0 lead against Brazil on the opening day of the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie, here on Friday.

Bopanna was drawn against world number 27 Thomaz Bellucci while 113th ranked Somdev will play the second singles against Ricardo Melo, who is 38 places above the Indian in the ranking chart.

“I am looking forward to tomorrow’s match. Go out there and play to my capabilities and give India the first point of the tie. My confidence levels is high,” Bopanna, ranked as low as 479, said after the draw ceremony.

Somdev too was upbeat about his prospects.

“Obviously, he is 75 in the world right now but I had few good wins during the past two months. I will come and play well and have good chance to win against Ricardo Mello,” he said.

Brazil’s non-playing captain Joao Zwetsch was also confident of a solid start for his side.

“I am happy Thomaz is playing first. I am sure Bopanna will be high on confidence after reaching the US Open doubles final, but this is a singles match and Thomaz is well-prepared for it,” Swetsch, who is 22-year-old Bellucci’s personal coach, said.

The visiting captain though said rankings do not matter in the Davis Cup ties.

“Thomaz has developed his game over the past few years and no one will see him only as a clay court player. He is tough to beat on any surface.

“However, I do not think draw or ranking makes any difference. Davis Cup is all about emotional feelings as the atmosphere and pressure is very different as you carry pride playing for the country. It is going to be a tough and very close tie,” he said.

India’s seasoned doubles pro Leander Paes, who will enter into his 21st year in Davis Cup, said a good start is key to any tie.

“In modern day tennis or for that matter in any game, a draw can make or mar your chances. A draw can help you to have a rousing start which might help you in the end, particularly when the two sides are balanced.

“Positive result depended on who display success in making good use of the chances during the competition,” the 37-year old Paes said.

Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will take on Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares in the doubles on Saturday and the former termed themselves as favourites.

“We are the favourite. That is about it but nothing is easy in Davis Cup. We are playing a team that made the Semi final of the French Open and beat the best team in the world. We have the favourite tag and we need to go on to the court and execute,” said Bhupathi.

On the other hand, Paes said,”Though we are favourites, Davis Cup is always different. Soares and Melo are no mean players. We have to be alert in not missing our chances.”

“We take each game and concentrate on winning it. Tomorrow is the big day for us. One good thing is that Som and Rohan know that the whole country and team members are backing them besides the Chennai crowd support. It is like win beneath the win and it lifts you up when you need a win,” Paes added.

Paes said Bopanna will not find it difficult in shifting the focus from doubles to singles.

“His is a simple game, packed with lot of power. He goes out and serve big. His second serve is also big. He looks to serve and volley. Rohan uses his ground strokes well even from the baseline too. So, I see his game is very simple. The first match in the tie is going to be all about energetic, physical fitness and mental toughness. There is going to be few chances in that match and whoever cash in on the chances is going to do well.”

“What he does in doubles play, Bopanna executes his serve and volley in singles play too. That does not change much as far as his strategy. The difference is covering half the court and full court.”


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