| Divij Sharan |
Chandigarh: Divij Sharan, who broke into the top-100 ATP doubles ranking earlier this week, replaced Saketh Myneni in India’s Davis Cup squad and is all set to play the doubles rubber against New Zealand in the Asia/Oceania relegation playoff tie, which begins on Friday.
Divij, who reached a career-best 94th rank, was selected as a reserve player initially along with N. Sriram Balaji. But his performance in recent times has helped him to get the break into the Davis Cup side. He is only the fourth Indian to be in top-100 after Leander Paes (5), Rohan Bopanna (15) and Mahesh Bhupathi (18).
Divij will be paired with either Vishnu Vardhan or Yuki Bhambri since he has played well with both the players.
Speaking about Divij’s selection over Saketh, India’s non-playing captain S.P. Misra said: “Considering Divij’s compatibility with both Yuki and Vishnu, we have decided to draft Divij in the squad. We have not dropped Saketh on talent. He is a very good player. But in the interest of the tie, we have made this change,” Misra said.
This season, Divij made five finals in the Challenger — three with Yuki and two with Vishnu — and won a title with Yuki.
The development means that Saketh will have to wait to make his Davis Cup debut.
Misra further said in the absence of Paes and Bhupathi, youngsters will put up a good performance.
“This is the right time for the players to make a mark despite the presence of the big wigs. The outing will be good for the players.”
Misra has high hopes from Yuki, saying he expects him to win the opening day’s singles, which will help to keep the hosts in good position.
Yuki is looking forward to the challenge of playing in the Davis Cup, saying it provides a good opportunity to the youngsters.
“We have been practising hard and we have the capability to win,” Yuki said. “Playing before your home crowd is always an advantage. We have the ability and we just need to stay focussed.”
Bhambri, who is the highest ranked individual in the team with singles ranking of 188 and doubles ranking of 194, has played for India in two Davis Cups — against South Africa (2009) and Uzbekistan (2012).
Yuki’s teammate Vishnu, ranked 263 in singles and 258 in doubles, had been a part of the 2011 Davis Cup team against Japan, while Sanam Singh was in the national team in this year’s tie against Uzbekistan. His singles ranking is 402.
Vishnu feels that the rich experience he had at the London Olympics will come in handy while Sanam Singh said that playing in front of home crowd will be a big advantage.
“I’m excited to take on the New Zealanders,” Sanam said.