LUCKNOW: India's non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal has decided to leave singles player Ramkumar Ramanathan in the final five chosen to take on Morocco in their Davis Cup World Group II 1st round match at the Mini Stadium, Vijayant Khand in Gomti Nagar here.
Rajpal picked Sumit Nagal, Sasikumar Mukund, Digvijay Pratap Singh, Yuki Bhambri and Rohan Bopanna as his five players for the tie, the winner of which will advance to the World Group I playoffs.
Nagal is ranked 156th in men's singles and 526th in doubles rankings while Sasikumar Mukund is ranked 365 in men's singles while Digvijay Pratap Singh is ranked 544th -- the three making up the singles options at Rajpal's disposal.
Yuki Bhambri, who is ranked 65th in men's doubles rankings, looks set to partner the World No.7 ranked Rohan Bopoanna, who reached the US Open final in men's doubles last week.
Morocco coach Mehdi Tahiri also announced their squad, namely Elliot Benchetrit (465), Yassine Dlimi (557), Adam Moundir (779), Walid Ahouda (1077) and Younes Lalami Laaroussi, which means all the Moroccan players are ranked lower than the Indians.
Meanwhile, considering that the conditions were extremely humid, India captain Rohit Rajpal also announced that the match timings had been changed for the convenience of the players and fans.
“Last three days we have practised here, the conditions have been extremely humid. While we stood there, we were drenched from top to bottom; imagine the plight of the player. This is the reason that the matches have been rescheduled from 12noon to 2 pm on Saturday and from 11 am to 1 pm on Sunday,” commented Rajpal, who is also an Executive Committee Member of the Indian Olympic Association.
“There was a request from Morrocco and after discussions with the referees, we decided to postpone the match timings. It was done to produce a better quality of tennis. We are also prepared to play under light if required.”
The draw ceremony will be conducted by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at his official residence on Friday.
Rajpal also recalled that Davis Cup was returning to Uttar Pradesh after 23 years and it was time for the youngsters and fans to grab this opportunity. Considering this is Bopanna’s last Davis Cup match, India's captain urged the fans to be present on this occasion.
“The people of Uttar Pradesh will witness world-class players. This is Rohan Bopanna’s last Davis Cup so they’ll get the opportunity to watch him in action. This is a good opportunity for juniors and aspiring players to become ball boys or volunteers. When we grew up, we also did similar things. They will be close to players to watch foot movement and technique,” he added.
Morocco coach Mehdi Tahiri said though his players are ranked lower than the Indians but said rankings did not matter in Davis Cup.
“In Davis Cup, you don’t see the rankings. On paper, India are favourite and have better-ranked players. But matches will be played on the courts, and we have to fight. We are going to do our best and fight for our country,” he said.
The teams will be allowed to change the players one hour before the draw. Matches will be broadcast live on Doordarshan Sports.
India: Sumit Nagal, Sasikumar Mukund, Digvijay Pratap Singh, Yuki Bhambri, Rohan Bopanna
Morocco: Elliot Benchetrit, Yassine Dlimi, Adam Moundir, Walid Ahouda, Younes Lalami Laaroussi