Somdev Devvarman sounded confident about pulling his weight in the quest for medals in tennis in the Asian Games.

After a solid training session at the Aoti Complex here on Friday, Devvarman said: “Playing for the country is a great privilege and I enjoy doing it. We have a great opportunity and the young team is motivated. We will be tough to beat.''

With the Indian men's team getting a first round bye like 13 other teams in a field of 18, Devvarman and company will start their campaign against Qatar.

Coach Nandan Bal insisted that Devvarman would play singles in all the matches irrespective of the strength of the opposition. He added that it was a great draw and the team had the chance to go for a medal better than a bronze.

Favourable draw

“We have a great draw. Qatar should not pose much of a problem. We get to play Thailand in the quarterfinals. Paradorn Srichaphan is not there and Danai Udomchoke is not the same force and is ranked around 400. We really fancy our chances,'' said Nandan Bal, quite happy with the way the boys have been shaping in the training sessions.

Though it may be fashionable to look at one match at a time, Bal, who had motivated Mahesh Bhupathi to bring out his best in the last Asian Games with some stinging remarks, was willing to rate India's chances against the top-seeded Chinese Taipei in the semifinal.

“Somdev had destroyed Yen-Hsun Lu in the Davis Cup tie last time. I hope he comes up with a good result again,'' said Bal.

Yen-Hsun Lu has, of course, been in terrific form and had beaten Andy Roddick at Wimbledon on way to the quarterfinals, the first Asian to do so in men's singles in a Grand Slam in the last 15 years. Chinese Taipei won four gold and two silver medals in Doha.

Bal said he was keeping an open mind about fielding Karan Rastogi, Sanam Singh or Vishnu Vardhan for the second singles. He did, however, drop a hint that he may go with Devvarman and Sanam Singh for the key doubles matches as the duo had done well at the Chennai Open.

Ready for the challenge

Conceding that Japan or Uzbekistan would make the final from the other half and both would be tough to face, Bal said the Indian team would be ready for the challenge at every stage.

With Rohan Bopanna not qualifying for the World Tour Finals, there was scope for him to join the rest of the team for the individual events for which entries have to be confirmed by November 14.

Meanwhile, the women's team coach Enrico Piperno felt that Sania Mirza may not be fully ready for the first match against Indonesia as she was still recovering from a throat infection.

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