Ramkumar Ramanathan will open India’s campaign against Canada in the Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie against debutant Bradley Schnur. Yuki Bhambri will play the crucial second singles tiw against world No 51 and star of the Canadian team, Denis Shapovalov.
The only surprise in the Indian team is the doubles pair, as captain Mahesh Bhupathi has decided to field India’s doubles No 1 Rohan Bopanna with Purav Raja instead of Saketh Myneni, who was dropped on fitness grounds. Raja was a last-minute addition to the team, replacing N Sri Ram Balaji, who twisted his ankle during the training camp in New York.
Raja, who partnered Leander Paes at the US Open, is a doubles specialist who has made his name on the doubles circuit with fellow Indian Divij Sharan. Bopanna and Raja, who will play only his second Davis Cup tie, will take on seasoned Daniel Nestor and Pospisil in the doubles rubber on Sunday.
India’s top-ranked player at 154, Ramanathan will be up against the 22-year-old Schnur, who is ranked much lower at world No 202. This is a much favourbale draw, as the Canadian team is going without World No 82 Vasek Pospisil, who is going through a rough patch with five straight losses on the ATP Tour. Interestingly, during Canada’s last tie against Great Britain, it was Pospisil, who had won both his singles rubbers.
In the reverse singles on the final day, Bhambri will take on Schnur and Ramkumar will lock horns with Shapovalov, which could prove to be a vital tie for India.
The Indian team is making its fourth straight attempt to make it to the elite 16-nation World Group, having lost to Serbia (2014), Czech Republic (2015) and Spain (2016) in the Play-offs in the last three years.