India to host Czech Republic in World Group Play-offs
India were today handed a tough Davis Cup draw, being pitted against top seeds Czech Republic in the World Group Play-offs, to be held from September 18-20 either in New Delhi or Pune.
London: India were today handed a tough Davis Cup draw, being pitted against top seeds Czech Republic in the World Group Play-offs, to be held from September 18-20 either in New Delhi or Pune.
The draw was held here. India defeated New Zealand 3-2 in Group I second round last week to reach Play-off stage while the Czech team had lost 2-3 to Australia in March in the World Group first round.
The Czech team has world number six Tomas Berdych, the Australian Open semifinalist this year, and multiple Grand Slam winner Radek Stepanek in its ranks.
However, both had missed the tie against Australia and they were led by world number 44 Jiri Vesley and Lukas Rosol (54). It will be interesting to see with what line-up the Czech team comes to India, against whom they enjoy a 3-0 record.
"Anything is possible in Davis Cup," India coach Zeeshan Ali told PTI when asked about the draw.
"Czech is a tough team. Last time we played Serbia. Any team that has come from World Group is going to be tough. But the biggest advantage is that we play on home courts. Whatever chances we have would not be possible if we were to play in Czech Republic," he said.
"Let's see if Berdych and Stepanek come. And I will talk to the players tonight and ask for their preference of courts."
Sources have said that the players prefer to play on DLTA courts.
The last time the two sides played each other was in 1997 when India had travelled to Pribram, where they lost 2-3. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi had played all the singles and the doubles matches.
Before that India lost to erstwhile Czechoslovakia in 1986 and 1926. AITA has shortlisted New Delhi and Pune as possible venues and a final decision will be taken after consultation with its Executive Committee members and concerned parties, according to a release.
India are likely to field almost the same team that beat New Zealand and it remains to be seen if Leander Paes is available to play the home tie. Paes had missed the New Zealand tie due to prior "commitments".