India’s singles players will need to back their talent with some strong performances for the team to emerge victorious against a reasonably strong Finland in the Davis Cup World Group I tie, starting in Espoo on Friday.
Both Prajnesh Guneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan have the experience of playing the big matches for a while now. It’s time for them to move forward from playing close matches to delivering that knockout punch that will take India to the next year’s Qualifiers.
If Ramkumar can play the same way he competed against 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic in the previous tie against Croatia and does not miss the chances he gets, India will have a very good chance in the tie.
As the second-best ranked player from India, Ramkumar will be up against Finland’s No 1 player Emil Ruusuvuori, who is the world No 74. This will be a crucial match for India.
Prajnesh, ranked 165, will be up against Otto Virtanen, ranked 419, and would be expected to win.
Prajnesh had won his fair share of matches but has the tendency of giving up advantageous positions, like the one against Borna Coric in the last tie against Croatia.
“Matches against good players are always close if I’m playing well. I have won matches against good players being in the lead and I have also lost matches being in the lead. That’s just the way they go,” Prajnesh told PTI.
“Matches which are closely fought can go either way. There is no pressure of playing for India that influences me...Sometimes there’s more pressure, other times that’s less.
“Again, just depends on how well I cope on that particular day,” he added.
India could once consider the doubles point in their pocket but now things have changed.
Rohan Bopanna (44) has immense experience of the big stage and he needs to use all of that to shepherd the team with Divij Sharan (86) since their opponents – Henri Kontinen (ranked 46) and Harri Heliovaara (ranked 76) – will be a tough nut to crack.
Bopanna and Sharan have played only one tie together, winning against Italy in March 2019. Most of 40-year-old Bopanna’s doubles wins have come either with either Leander Paes or Saketh Myneni.
Kontinen has played three of the four Grand Slams this year with Edouard Roger-Vasselin but paired with Heliovaara at the US Open, probably to get ready for this tie. They had a decent first round before losing in a close three-set match.
Non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal feels that the conditions are not entirely in the favour of the hosts since the low bounce of the courts will benefit the Indian players, who can play the chip-and-charge game to counter their rivals.
With PTI Inputs