‘Rankings do not matter in the Davis Cup’

He may have reached world No. 3 in doubles and made a fabulous start to the season with a fine run at the Australian Open, but Rohan Bopanna was the first to reach Indore on Sunday for the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group I tie.

“It is great to be back in the team. I always like to come on Sunday or Monday, in case I play a final. We play Davis Cup only two or three weeks in a year. It is unique and special. We need to prepare well the whole week.

“I don’t take my spot for granted. We have a lot of young boys and the camaraderie is great. It is nice to prepare early with them and I am happy to be here,” said the 33-year-old, who is the seniormost member of the Indian squad, after a training session on Monday.

Though Chinese Taipei would be without its two leading players — Yen-Hsun Lu and Jimmy Wang — Bopanna said it was important to stay focused and get the job done on court, despite being the favourite for the tie.

“We have proved it many times, and many other teams have done so. The rankings do not matter in the Davis Cup. We cannot afford to take anything for granted. It is great that we have seven players here and the youngsters will benefit from the experience.

“When I came into the team in 2002, I was raw. I have matured over the years and look forward to sharing my experience and motivating the others,” said Bopanna.

Having started as a singles specialist in the team, after waiting for his turn, Bopanna was soon given the responsibility to play both singles and doubles. Now, he may have to focus only on doubles against Taipei.

“I play only doubles on the professional circuit and it suits me to play only doubles here. But, I will be ready to play a singles rubber if the situation demands. Playing at a high level in doubles had helped my singles game.

“Though it is just one point out of five, doubles is very important in the Davis Cup and often proves decisive. I look forward to bringing my experience and helping my partner stay relaxed, confident and play at his best,” said Bopanna.

With Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri being strong candidates for the singles matches, Saketh Myneni may be the logical choice to play doubles with Bopanna.

Bopanna saw a bit of himself in Saketh, particularly after having a close look at his game during the quarterfinal doubles loss in a super tie-break against him at the Chennai Open.

“Saketh has all the tools. He has a huge serve and a big forehand. His backhand is solid. He has obviously benefited from the collegiate tennis in the US.

“He is easily capable of jumping another 150 spots in the rankings. It is just a matter of time before he starts stringing a few matches together at the higher level. He needs to have the belief.

“The three Challengers at home after this Davis Cup are a great opportunity for him and a lot of other players like Jeevan (Nedunchezhiyan) and R. Ramkumar,” observed Bopanna.

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