Tennis

New Davis Cup format to our benefit: Bhupathi

Mahesh Bhupathi.

Mahesh Bhupathi.   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

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Better chance of pulling off upsets, says India skipper

The new format to be used in the 2019 Davis Cup qualifying rounds will work to the benefit of comparatively weaker sides like India, captain Mahesh Bhupathi believes.

Unseeded India hosts a strong Italy in the qualifying round in February next year, in a shorter two-day tie with best-of-three set rubbers. Ties were earlier held over three days, with five-set rubbers.

“The new format benefits us, because when you are playing better teams, it is easier to get the upset win by winning two out of three sets (rather than three out of five sets),” Bhupathi told The Hindu at the launch of the Bengaluru Midnight Marathon here on Tuesday.

In Fabio Fognini (World No. 14), Marco Cecchinato (20) and Andreas Seppi (37), Italy boasts a formidable team. India’s best singles player, is Yuki Bhambri (108).

While Bhupathi is all for making full use of home conditions, he does not agree with the line of thought that a hot, humid city will affect the Italians a great deal.

“Hot conditions won’t matter at that time of the year, because the Italians arrive here after playing the Australian Open in Melbourne, where it’ll be over 40°C,” he said.

To meet the Davis Cup court regulations — there should be a space behind each baseline of not less than 27 feet (8.23m) — is the top priority now, Bhupathi said.

“We’ve put in some venue requests to the AITA, but there are some concerns with the Davis Cup rules and regulations when it comes to stadiums.

“We require a stadium with a certain minimum amount of space behind the baseline. That’s the issue now. The AITA is trying to figure it out, and they will take a call in about 10 days. Our surface preference — be it grass or otherwise — has to fit the regulations,” the 44-year-old said.

Players’ form

On Dhivij Sharan, who on Monday overtook Rohan Bopanna to become the highest-ranked Indian doubles player (World No. 38), Bhupathi said, “He’s had many great results. He’s definitely in the reckoning (for a Davis Cup spot).”

Bhupathi is happy that players like Divij and Prajnesh Gunneswaran have had good runs in recent times, but that does not mean that Davis Cup berths are guaranteed.

“It is a great sign when our guys do well, but winning now doesn’t really matter. They have to win closer to our tie,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 12:05:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/new-davis-cup-format-to-our-benefit-bhupathi/article25372251.ece

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