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‘We need specialist doubles pair’

- Saketh & Yuki ensure 5-0 rout of Chinese Taipei
Yuki Bhambri, in Indore, on Sunday. (PTI)

Indore: India’s Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali said it was good for home team players to have got the chance to test themselves in the Asia-Oceania Group I Davis Cup tie against Chinese Taipei. However, he felt that Saketh Myneni needs to develop fast as a big player if they are to win matches against tough opponents.

India routed Chinese Taipei 5-0, but Somdev Dev Varman and the doubles pair of Rohan Bopanna and Saketh were tested by the visiting players in at least two matches. “Yes, they were tested. Somdev needed a match like this because the confidence goes up. Saketh too came out and played really well. He came for the doubles in this tie but also pulled off a singles, which was great. But if we have to compete in the World Group, we need a specialist doubles pair,” Zeeshan said, after India’s victory on Sunday.

Saketh and Yuki Bhambri recorded dominating straight-set victories in the reverse singles on Sunday.

Myneni, who contributed to India’s doubles win on Saturday, carried his good form into the singles rubber as captain decided to play him in place of Somdev, who won a marathon singles against Ti Chen. The 26-year-old Myneni, ranked 313, took just 48 minutes to defeat higher-ranked Tsung Hua Yang 6-1, 6-4 in the dead fourth rubber.

Hsien-Yin Peng, who played in place of Ti Chen, fought his heart out to get that elusive win for his side in the last singles, but Yuki was too good for him, winning 7-5, 6-0.

Zeeshan added: “The way Rohan and Saketh played in the first set of the doubles, it was like top-10 players playing, but after that they really had to work hard. The competition would be much tougher in the World Group, so Saketh really have to work hard and reach that level, if we are win there.”

Saketh did well last year on the ITF Futures Circuit, reaching five singles finals and winning four of them. He also did well in the doubles as he reached semi-finals of the Chennai Open with his Russian partner.

Saketh said playing for the country was “absolute magic” and he would focus on cracking Grand Slam qualifiers this season. “The focus now is to remain healthy this season. A lot of emphasis will be on fitness and getting stronger, so that I can graduate to the next level,” he said.

Yuki said he was expecting a tough last match. “When I came in the morning, I saw Ti Chen doing practice. I thought, it will be a long day, but they did not play him. Peng played well, he served well and his forehand was really good. But for someone who basically plays more doubles, he can’t do it for long in singles,” he said.

Yuki was optimistic of India making the World Group play-offs. For that, they need to beat Korea in the second round in April. “We have not beaten Korea in a away tie, but if we play to our best, it should not be a problem,” he said.