SPORT

India to travel to Holland for World Group play-off

CHENNAI April 9 For the fourth year in a row, India has drawn a tough "away" opponent in the Davis Cup World Group play-off round.

The Indian team, which beat New Zealand in Kolkata last weekend to qualify for the World Group playoffs, will travel to the Netherlands in September to try and earn the right to climb to the elite group in 2004.

The World Group playoff tie will be played from September 19 to 21 at a venue to be announced shortly by the Dutch Tennis Association.

Leander Paes and Co. last played the Dutch at Jaipur and beat the visitors 3-2 on grass with three singles victories against much higher ranked players. It was the best Davis Cup match of Mahesh Bhupathi's career as he beat both Jan Siemerink and Jacco Eltingh while Paes beat Simerink on the third day.

For the non-playing captain of the team, Ramesh Krishnan, it has been a case of so near and yet so far in the last three years that he has been on the job. And now he faces a fourth major obstacle after leading the team to Sweden (Bastad), the United States (Winston Salem) and Australia (Adelaide) in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

``That is the way the draw has gone. Now that we know who we are playing we had better prepare ourselves,'' said Ramesh. ``We have to find out what surface we will be playing on and where. It may be clay or it may be indoors, we have to wait and see.''

The full draw for the play off matches: (home nations listed first):

The Netherlands vs India; Austria vs Belgium; Canada vs Brazil; Thailand vs Czech Republic; Germany vs Belarus; Morocco vs Great Britain; Ecuador vs Romania; Slovak Republic vs United States.