The Telegraph
Tuesday , February 4 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

‘Won’t be easy to beat South Korea’

Calcutta: It’s time to look beyond Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in the Indian Davis Cup scenario — that seems to be the mood in the young team that thrashed Chinese Taipei 5-0 in the Asia-Oceania Group 1 tie, concluding on Sunday, in Indore.

But for veteran coach and former Davis Cup player and captain Akhtar Ali, the future may not guarantee a smooth sailing. “This is a young team. Somdev (Dev Varman) and Yuki (Bhambri) are strong players. It’s good to have Rohan Bopanna in the mix.

“But one has to understand that the next opponents, South Korea, will not be an easy challenge. Moreover, even with Leander and Bhupathi in the team, we have never beaten South Korea in their backyard,” he said.

Akhtar supported the views of coach Zeeshan Ali —also his son — who has emphasised that the team needs a specialist doubles pair.

“It is not really fair on the junior players if one still banks on Bhupathi. Bopanna is a good bet in doubles, but is yet to find a well-set partner in the team. If Bhupathi plays and one of the top singles players gets injured, India will be in a fix then,” he said.

Asked why Bopanna and Somdev cannot be a good pair, Akhtar opined that it might prove difficult for them to strike a rhythm since both were predominantly left-court players.

Saketh Myneni, who combined with Bopanna to win the doubles game against Chinese Taipei, has not really impressed Akhtar a lot. “He is almost 26 and needs to get stronger. Hopefully, he will develop into a more formidable player.”