Calcutta: Japan is one country India have never lost to in Davis Cup. Still, captain Ramesh Krishnan is not taking the forthcoming tie for granted even with the home advantage.
“The last time we met (in Tokyo last year), it was a close contest and we won thanks to a great show by Leander (Paes),” Ramesh said Friday evening. “We will be playing at home this time but that doesn’t mean it will be a cakewalk. We’ll have to be at our best to win the tie.”
India and Japan lock horns in the Asia-Oceania zone group I first-round tie at the capital’s R.K. Khanna Stadium from February 7-9. The team hasn’t been announced but it only appears a formality. Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Harsh Mankad and Rohan Bopanna should be the top four with Sunil Kumar being the fifth member.
There are no plans to give senior pro Paes a break in doubles to avoid playing three days on the trot. “As of now, he’s playing both singles and doubles,” said Ramesh who is in town chaperoning elder daughter Gayatri. The ITF junior meet at the DKS will be the 13-year-old’s first junior meet, though she has to go through the qualifying grind.
The only area of interest is who will be the second singles player. Ramesh was criticised from some quarters for preferring Mankad over Bopanna last year despite the latter being the highest ranked player in the team. “We have to field who we feel is best suited…” was how Ramesh shrugged off the topic.
This time, it could be Bopanna’s turn to get the nod. Especially as the tie is on grass.