New Delhi: He was profusely sweating in the sultry Delhi heat after a practise session, hours after arriving here, but Radek Stepanek is not bothered about the tough conditions and says the Czech Republic have quality players to pull off the Davis Cup tie against India.
The top-ranked team in the Davis Cup has come without world number six Tomas Berdych but features top-100 players in Jiri Vesley (48) and Lukas Rosol (87) apart from Grand Slam winner Stepanek and Adam Pavlasek.
They hit the courts after touching down the capital in the wee hours to get the first taste of the conditions.
"I came from America and weather is similar to what it was in the US Open and the place where I live, Florida. Just want to get rid of jet lag. We have four days to get ready. With our success in the past years, quality of the guys is on our side," Stepanek, who was a key player in Czech Republic's winning campaign in 2012 and 2013.
The three-time champions are without Berdych but Stepanek says it is not a worry for them.
"It was Tomas' decision (to miss the tie). We always play with the team we have, trying to do our best. We have won matches without him. We have that experience and it does not bother us. Our mission is to win 3 points. But when you miss a top-10 player, it is a big miss," he said.
Asked if they feel India can pose a good challenge to them, Stepanek said,"India are playing at home, it's their conditions with the crowd supporting them. They will like to show their best."
Stepanek has had lots of success with India's veteran pro Leander Paes. They won Australian Open (2012) and US Open (2013) together and were runners-up at the 2012 US Open.
Now Stepanek and Paes will fight for the crucial doubles point on Saturday and the Czech player feels India will have a good chance to win that rubber.
"We have had great success together in the past. It will be interesting to find him on the other side of the court. He always makes big things here, he is a great partner. We have couple of options but in doubles, India will be favourites," he said.
Stepanek said he has always enjoyed his time in India ever since he came to Chandigarh to play a Challenger some 18 ago. He has also competed in the Chennai Open with Paes and made a reference to the Indian's success with Czech players.
Of Paes' eight men's Grand Slam titles, five have come with Czech partners. He won 2006 US Open with Martin Damm and with Lukas Dlouhy he won the French Open and US Open in 2009.
"Chennai was pretty nice. I had the partner with whom I won a Grand Slam, so no complaints. Leander is half Czech because he has won half of his Grand Slams with the Czech guys," he said.
Stepanek, who was a top-10 singles player in 2006, said Yuki Bhambri's Shanghai Challenger win has come at the right time. "It will give him a lot of confidence but it will depend on how he handles the pressure of crowd and (pressure of) going into the World Group. I believe the quality is on our side, we know we are in tough conditions."
Stepanek was asked how Czech Republic emerged as a strong Davis Cup team that won the championship thrice and recently in 2012 and 2013. "I believe we have the skills, we have everything what we need. There are lot of things which need to work in Davis Cup, that's the key."
For the 36-year-old Stepanek, the two Davis Cup triumphs are the best moments of his career. "It's the best things in my career, specially winning in 2012. We won at home, Prague, and I played the fifth match when score was 2-2. I was dreaming about it since I was a kid. I had dreams of holding the trophy in my hand. It was such a feeling that even a Grand Slam win does not beat. Being part of Davis Cup is such an honour, amazing feeling."