For all the storms that Indian tennis generates in the media, there was
admirable peace as Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna and the rest of the team
practised on the beautiful grass courts at the Chandigarh Club here on
Wednesday.Korea, without its top three singles players, went about its task far
away from everyone’s attention while the Indian team bristled with harmonious
energy! It was a delight to watch Saketh Myneni, Rohan Bopanna and
Ramkumar Ramanathan deliver their big serves. The 43-year-old Paes was
commanding his magical touch on his favourite surface and on which he could
torment the best on his day.All the attention was on Paes and Bopanna, who
combined nicely when pitted against the vibrant game of Vishnu Vardhan and
Saketh. There is no doubt that the Koreans will have their hands full.Jinx-wary
Captain Anand Amritraj, however, was categorical that the Koreans knew how to
fight and that the Indian team was prepared for any challenge. “I expected
Leander and Rohan to win against the Czechs. But, I sort of jinxed it by saying
so. I am not going to do that now,” said Anand.The onus will be on Saketh and
Ramkumar, who have done very well on the professional circuit and will be the
main soldiers leading the team in battle, playing singles on the opening
day.Having recovered from a shoulder strain and a foot injury, Saketh said that
he was on top of his game, thanks to the hard training in recent weeks. After a
less than satisfactory time at both the French Open and Wimbledon qualifying
events, Saketh said that things were falling in place again. Saketh had trained
last week in Delhi with Sanam Singh and some juniors, as he got familiar with
the conditions.“It is old school grass,” Saketh pointed out, even as he struck a
cautious note. “Yong-Kyu Lim, who beat us in the doubles gold medal match
with Hyeon Chung in the Asian Games, is here. They are a tough
team.”Ramkumar was enthusiastic about making his debut. “Rohan is helping
me a lot. It is a fast court and will suit our game. I am happy to be playing my
first Davis Cup tie in India,” said Ramkumar. “The Koreans are mentally strong.
But, it helps to be aggressive on these courts.”The captain, delighted to be
leading the team on grass for the first time in the country since April 2008, when
Bopanna and Prakash Amritraj had beaten a Japanese team that had a young
Kei Nishikori, said the surface could tilt the tie in India’s favour against the
Koreans, who had such good depth of talent.A strong spell of rain in the
evening, after the teams had one long session in the morning, showed how
nature can really complicate matters and tease everyone. There is a forecast of
rain for the next few days.The Indian team, fearing a storm, will be praying for
adequate playing time to wrap the tie up and march towards the World Group
play-off.The draw will be made on Thursday to decide who plays the first
singles. It might be a difficult tie to lose, but there will be no dearth of