Playoff against Spain worst possible draw


India’s non-playing Davis Cup captain Anand Amritraj said, “The only thing worse than playing Spain at home is playing Spain in Spain.” The US-based 65-year-old called India’s World Group playoff tie ‘the worst possible draw. The tie is scheduled to be played from September 16 to 18.The oldest of the three tennis-playing Amritraj bothers said India would play a traditional powerhouse for the third year in succession, most likely on grass. In the last two seasons, India had faced Serbia and the Czech Republic.”They have some 12 players in the top-100, that’s the kind of depth they have,” Anand said. “If we’d played them away it would’ve been a farce. At home we get to choose surface and play before our crowd. So at least we can hope to make a fight of it. We have just seven weeks to go for the next tie, and it’s going to be a challenge.”Amritraj’s side beat South Korea 4-1in Chandigarh in the weekend, after Ramanathan Ramkumar and Saketh Myneni were stretched to the limit on the opening day when India took a 2-0 lead in blistering conditions. “The fitness levels have to improve,” Anand said.”In your 20s, you have to be able to play five sets in any conditions and not need more than 48 hours to recover. Saketh had cramped so badly on the opening day that we had to request Rohan (Bopanna) to play the first reverse singles (on Sunday) because we didn’t want to disappoint people who had come to watch and also television, which was broadcasting live.”He agreed quickly and did well, but to be fair to him, he’s a doubles specialist.”Anand said fitness wasn’t the reason why he was opting for grass for the play-off tie in September, saying, it suited the team to play to their strengths. And Spain’s weakness on grass is well-known. “Heat wouldn’t be a factor in September, not so much of a factor at least,” he said. “It will be about 35 degrees, which should be manageable.””Obviously points are shorter on grass,” Anand pointed out. “Most of the time, the rallies don’t go beyond 5 or 6 shots. For the tie against Korea, I spoke to the boys first. They all felt it would be better to play on grass. Now when we play Korea (next) they’re going to put us on the slowest hard courts they can come up with. I strongly believe that had we played on any other surface (against Korea, last weekend), we wouldn’t have been 2-0 up on the first day.”

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