Calcutta: Rohan Bopanna’s role in the Indian Davis Cup team has thus far been restricted to that of a promising junior striving to seal his berth alongside the likes of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. Come Saturday, he would move into a higher-status rank after stepping into Leander Paes’ shoes. The big-server from Coorg has been nominated for both singles and doubles for the first time in his career.
“I’m really excited at the prospect of facing two top-20 singles players (Martin Verkerk and Sjeng Schalken) and also pairing with a top doubles exponent like Mahesh Bhupathi,” Bopanna told The Telegraph from Zwolle, shortly after the draw for the World Group qualifying tie against hosts The Netherlands.
This is the first time Bopanna will be playing alongside Bhupathi, but he is not unduly worried. “We have practised together for three days here and I think we have a good chance against the Dutch pair (John van Lottum and Verkerk).”
Playing three matches in three days won’t be a problem for Bopanna. “I have known it ever since we landed here, so I am mentally fully prepared. I am physically fully fit too.”
He added that a man of Leander Paes’ experience can’t be easily replaced. “He’s played so many Davis Cup matches, obviously we’ll miss him… but we have no option and have to try our best,” said Bopanna.