The winter may almost be over, but the ice is yet to melt, figuratively speaking. The preparation has been sound, and it is time to break the ice for a confident Indian tennis team. The task has been entrusted to a colt who has been growing in stature and strength in recent months.
If anything, the lad, who reached the singles quarterfinals at the Chennai Open and doubles third round at the Australian Open, does not entertain many butterflies in his stomach these days.
It should be a cracker of a contest when two former world No. 1 juniors — Yuki Bhambri and Tsung-Hua Yang — set the tone for the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group I tie at the Indore Tennis Club here on Friday.
While captain Anand Amritraj emphasised his faith in the boys by stating it did not matter who played the first rubber, Yuki said he was looking forward to the first match and giving the host a sound start.
The 22-year-old Yang has an intimidating all-round game, described as “fantastic” by the country’s No. 1 player Somdev Devvarman, but the strongly-built Taipei lad does not have a record, particularly in the Davis Cup theatre, to speak for his prowess.
However, Yang was not worried about his record and reputation. He chose to live in the present. “Every match is different, and every day is different,” said Yang.
A relaxed and confident Yuki said, “The first match is always important. I am looking forward to giving a good start and putting pressure on the Taipei team.”
It may be to his advantage that Yuki gets on court promptly, without having to endure the uncertainty of the waiting game that often occurs in five-set matches.
The Taipei team may definitely be at a disadvantage without the services of the world class Yen-Hsun Lu and Jimmy Wang, but the team assembled here under its young captain Tai-Wei Liu may be a tough nut to crack if it plays anywhere close to its strength.
The experienced Somdev, who had beaten Yen-Hsun Lu in straight sets in his backyard at Kaohsiung in 2009 when the teams last met in the Davis Cup arena, said he was ready to get on court and take the challenge forward irrespective of the start.
Beyond a point, the supremacy in terms of individual rankings of the players that is in favour of the Indian team may not matter.
Coupled with the anxiety that the team underwent during the past two days when Bopanna endured back pain and reportedly needed considerable physiotherapy, it could well be a tricky tie.
The good point is that the Indian team has a lot of healthy respect for the visiting side, and that may reflect in the quality of its tennis. To put things in perspective, India is better placed to capitalise on a draw that could smoothly propel the team to the World Group play-off, but it is time to deliver on court.
On the slow and bouncy surface, under the warm sun, get ready for a lively contest.