| Somdev Dev Varman and Yuki Bhambri with two of the Chinese Taipei players, in Indore, on Thursday. (PTI) |
Indore: India are unlikely to be troubled by a depleted Chinese Taipei, but there is no scope for being smug as the visitors have some talented players in their ranks, for the Asia-Oceania Group I tie, beginning here on Friday.
The young Indian team, led by Somdev Dev Varman, have done well for the country, and India could have been in a better position in the competition but for the players’ revolt last year. The hosts are still in Group I. They lost to Korea 1-4 at home in February last year in the absence of top players.
However, India have a good chance this time as Chinese Taipei have arrived without their top stars — world No. 54 Yen-Hsun Lu and Jimmy Wang (154) — and a victory here would take them to Korea for the second round. The winner of that match will play in World Group play-offs.
India have strong singles players in Somdev and Yuki Bhambri, and both of them enjoyed a successful 2013 season. Yuki will open India’s campaign on Friday against Taipei’s No. 1 player Tsung Hua Yang (ranked 216).
Somdev, ranked 103, will then clash with Ti Chen (284) in the second singles. Chen had good results on the ITF Futures circuit last year, winning three titles and making several semi-finals.
The tie will also mark the beginning of a new innings for former star Anand Amritraj, who will sit in the captain’s chair. He replaces S P Misra. Amritraj said it won’t make a difference who plays the first match since “it does not make a difference to the tie in the long run”.
“He (Somdev) came from 650 to finish the year close to 90. That’s absolutely unbelievable.
“Since then, he had a tough draw in Australian Open. He has only played two tournaments so far, it's not that he's playing badly. He's playing fine and just need more matches. Davis Cup will be good for him, it will give him confidence back. (PTI)