To trump Serbia, AITA hopes to tap Bangalores altitude fix

Written by Express news service | Mumbai | Updated: Apr 29 2014, 20:35pm hrs
High altitude and playing conditions were the main consideration as the All India Tennis Association (AITA) chose Bangalore as the venue for the Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against the Novak Djokovic-led Serbia.

The logic was that high altitude will pose the visitors a tougher challenge in the crucial tie, winner of which will progress to the World Group in 2015 while the losing side will have to contest in the Zone Groups. The tie, which will be held from September 12-14, will be held at the hard courts of the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association, which are relatively slower in nature.

Indias Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali said they were considering Delhi and Bangalore as the two possible options, but chose the latter due to the tougher playing conditions it offers. We chose Bangalore mainly because it is at a higher altitude, Ali said.

Ali added that it will be tough for Djokovic, who will fly straight to India after participating in the US Open that will finish the week prior to the tie, and his team to get accustomed to the conditions in a day or two. Assuming that Novak Djokovic will play, he will reach India on Wednesday or Thursday. In that case he will have only one or two days to get used to the conditions before playing his first match on Friday. Getting used to the conditions at a higher altitude is not easy for anyone, Ali said.

The 2013 finalists will travel to India looking to continue their seven-year-long presence in the World Group. Serbia has made the quarter-finals or better every year since 2010. For India, this tie represents a chance to return to the Davis Cups top tier. India qualified for the playoff when they beat South Korea 3-1 at Busan in second round of Group I Asia/Oceania in the first week of April. Serbia will undoubtedly present a greater challenge for India. The 2010 champions may have suffered a loss to Switzerland in the World Group first round this year but their form in recent years has seen them become a force to be reckoned with.

Ali added that the crowd support at Bangalore would also prove to be crucial. Two factors play a huge role in Davis Cup tie: playing conditions and crowd support. Our players too are comfortable playing at Bangalore. The slow courts there are something they like and it is Rohans home. So the crowd support, which is something very crucial in such ties, will also be something we will be banking on.

Somdev out of top-100

new Delhi: A struggling Somdev Devvarman dropped out of top-100 bracket in the singles rankings as the Indian slipped to 102 with the loss of two places.

Somdev has been struggling since winning the Delhi Open challenger title and failed to cross the first round hurdle in five consecutive tournaments on the ATP tour.

Also sliding in the ATP ranking ladder was India's second best singles player, Yuki Bhambri, who lost four spots to be 153. The tall and big serving Saketh Myneni though jumped seven places to be 262. In the doubles, Leander Paes continued to be India's best ranked player and the only one in top-10 at number nine. Davis Cupper Rohan Bopanna was next best at number 14.

Mahesh Bhupathi, who will retire this year and will be playing only select events, gained a place to be 46. Left-handed Delhi boy Divij Sharan suffered a loss of four places to take the 71st spot this week. In the WTA rankings, Sania Mirza maintained her eighth rank in the doubles chart.