Second seed India will play New Zealand in the first round of the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania group-I event at home from February 3 to 5.
India had lost the World Group play-off in the last three years against Serbia, Czech Republic and Spain. It has a 5-3 record against New Zealand, and has won the last five times since 2002. New Zealand won its three matches from 1975 to 1978.
New Zealand’s singles players Finn Tearney and Jose Statham are ranked 382 and 413 respectively. It has three doubles players, Michael Venus (41), Marcus Daniell (55) and Artem Sitak (61).
India will be banking on the performances of Yuki Bhambri and Somdev Devvarman despite some steady performance by Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan in recent years.
India has never conceded a single Davis Cup match to New Zealand in last five years. India won the ties in 2015, 2012, 2004, 2003, 2002 but lost three ties (1978, 1976, 1975) out of the total eight Davis Cup matches played so far.
India captain Anand Amritraj is full of hopes that its leading singles players, who missed their last two ties due to injuries, will be in action this time.
“It’s good for us that we are playing at home. Let’s hope that Yuki Bhambri and Somdev Devvarman get back to playing in the side. It’s still a few months away. I will discuss with AITA about the surface and venue soon,” Amritraj told PTI.
Meanwhile, it is reported that Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association is willing to host the tie. Reportedly, they are likely to send a letter to AITA, showing interest to host the first round tie.
If their request is approved, Pune will host the Davis Cup tie. A win against New Zealand is essential for India, as it will have to face the winner of the match betweeen Uzbekistan and Korea.
India will have to play a home tie again against Uzbekistan, but it will be an abroad game if it has to face Korea.