The All India Tennis Association (AITA) on Saturday announced a seven-member squad for the upcoming Davis Cup tie against South Korea in Chandigarh from July 15-17.
The AITA chose seven players instead of six to accommodate Leander Paes and help develop camaraderie between the veteran doubles star and Rohan Bopanna — his partner for the men’s doubles event at the Rio Olympics.
Paes was included in the squad at the 11th hour but the final team for the Davis Cup tie will be announced on July 5. Olympic captain and Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali hoped that the players will gel together and find their rhythm during the build up to the South Korea tie and will be in top form going into the Rio Olympics.
“We did not have Leander in mind for the Davis Cup because he had ruled himself out earlier. But keeping Rio in mind we have included seven players in the team instead of the usual six, to accommodate Leander. That gives us a chance to interact, practice with him, but still not sure whether he will play or not,” Zeeshan said.
“The whole idea is to get together, prepare and get ready for the Olympics,” he added.
While Yuki Bhambri is expected to spearhead the Indian charge in the singles category, Bopanna will be the man to watch out for in the doubles. Both Saketh Myneni and Vishnu Vardhan have the experience of competing in Davis Cup ties and could expect to get the nod from the selectors.
AITA chief Anil Khanna, meanwhile, hoped that the Indian players will be able to exploit their home advantage against the Koreans.
“Chandigarh was chosen as the venue specifically keeping in mind our strength on grass courts. The South Koreans are not as comfortable on grass courts and we hope our players will be able to exploit that,” Khanna said.
Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Saketh Myneni, Sumit Nagal, Yuki Bhambri and Vishnu Vardhan.
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