Drawing Spain for its Davis Cup World Group play-off might well have already sounded the death knell for India’s chances, more so with Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer set to play.
If captain Anand Amritraj had hopes of making Spain’s job at least a bit difficult, even that looks unlikely, with neither the playing surface nor the conditions matching the Indians’ preferences.
Excerpts from an interaction with Amritraj:
How do you see the tie?
It’s an uphill battle. Out of the three [play-off ties], this is, by far, the worst.
It reminds me of the 1987 final against Sweden. We went to Gothenberg, they made a special clay court for us and we lost 5-0.
It’s, kind of, the same feeling. Against Nadal and Ferrer in singles, it’s pretty much not winnable.
Our best chance again is in doubles.
Did you expect Nadal, Ferrer and the two Lopezes to come?
No. Even now, I have to see Nadal in Delhi to believe it.
They don’t need Nadal and Ferrer to beat us. But it will be good for Indian tennis and the public to see Nadal.
It is only the Indian Davis Cup team that it won’t be good for!
Still, have you given yourself the best possible chance?
The timings came as a surprise — to me and to my team. Playing in the evening is advantageous to them. My first choice of surface was grass. We tried Kolkata, Chandigarh and the Delhi Gymkhana. But you had to have a 4,000-seater, and the weather conditions weren’t suitable.
As captain, you were to be consulted…
Well, 99 per cent of the times matches are played in the morning. It didn’t even strike me to ask them.
The only time we played in the evening was in Bengaluru. The whole idea seems to be that they want more fans coming in. I hope that happens.
The Leander Paes-Rohan Bopanna combination hasn’t clicked. Did you consider giving Divij Sharan and Purav Raja a chance? They have had great results of late.
Divij and Purav have been great. They have had three semifinal finishes and two titles in the last three months.
But the selection committee sought to stick with Leander and Rohan. We have to see. They’ll have to bring their best.
What were your inputs?
The selection committee pretty much decided that. I kind of stayed out of it.
This is your third year as captain. How do you look at your future?
The boys are happy. I’ll do it as long as the AITA and the players want me to do. I haven’t really given much thought to it.
The original goal was to get into the World Group. But it’s getting tougher and tougher.