Adelaide: Australia intend to crush underdogs India in the Davis Cup World Group qualifying tie starting here Friday.
Coach Wally Masur and captain John Fitzgerald warned on Tuesday there would be no sympathy for the lowly-ranked Indians. “This tie, we just see it as a means to an end,” Masur said.
“It’s a relegation tie and that’s not the situation Australia would like to be in, so it’s business — three days of business and back to where we belong, in the World Group, next year. Australia has only been out of the World Group once in all these years so it’s not an option we really want to entertain.”
Fitzgerald said the hardline approach would combat any Australian complacency against a squad which has no player ranked in the top 400 in singles.
“We want to win this tie badly so we are going to leave no stone unturned in trying to do it,” Fitzgerald said. “We are not going to underestimate them at all, we believe that we have got a competitive opposition.”
Masur said the presence of world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt served notice of Australia’s intentions. “That just shows the level of respect that we and our players have for this competition,” he said.
Australia will announce their singles and doubles combinations at the draw on Thursday. India’s top-ranked singles player is Rohan Bopanna — 405th in the world.
India’s other team members are 22nd-ranked doubles player Leander Paes (singles 984), Sunil Kumar (539) and Vishal Uppal (755). India’s hopes of an upset have been set back by the injury-enforced loss of doubles star Mahesh Bhupathi.
Bhupathi, who won the US Open doubles title with Max Mirnyi of Belarus, withdrew on Sunday with a shoulder injury. He has been replaced by Uppal.
Hewitt’s double role
Fitzgerald, meanwhile, hinted that Hewitt could be asked to play doubles as well. He said he would not make a final decision on the doubles pairing until after Friday’s opening day singles matches but said it was possible Hewitt could play both.
“It’s not beyond the realms of possibility,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re going to get him to practise in doubles as well as singles. We just want to keep our options open.”
Although Fitzgerald hasn’t announced his singles line-up either, Hewitt and big-serving left-hander Wayne Arthurs are certain to play on Friday with one of them backing up the next day as Todd Woodbridge’s doubles partner.
Indian captain Ramesh Krishnan said he would wait until Thursday before finalising his line-up with Paes certain to play both singles and doubles. He said his team had not given up hope.
“We’ll give it our best shot,” Krishnan said. “We’re not going to concede anything. Lleyton has done well in Brazil in Davis Cup and in Spain so he’s been through the grind. The thing is not to just give it up to him, let him come up with it.”