Bhupathi: ‘We can give anybody a run for their money’

India’s Davis Cup captain was upbeat of his side’s chances in the World Group Play-off after India took an irreversible 3-0 lead against Uzbekistan.

Mahesh Bhupathi celebrates India’s victory with his daughter on Saturday.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

After taking an irreversible 3-0 lead against Uzbekistan in his debut tie, India captain Mahesh Bhupathi was upbeat of his side’s chances in the World Group Play-off. India has failed to progress into the World Group in each of the last three years.

“We can give anybody a run for their money,” said Bhupathi. “We just need some help from the draw. With the kind of servers we have, anything is possible.”

In the absence of Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sriram Balaji did the job for India. This, however, wouldn’t give him a selection headache, Bhupathi insisted. “I am in a good situation. For them, too, it’s a positive thing. They have to fight and push each other. It’s all positive.”

Bhupathi was in particular thrilled by the way his wards served, especially in the doubles rubber. “One of the reasons we wanted this venue was because of the conditions. It is quick and the servers didn’t disappoint us. The way they were playing, there was not much to say. I just had to tell them to keep the foot on the pedal.”

‘No bigger honour’

For Bopanna, it was his first tie since playing South Korea ahead of the Rio Olympics last July. He couldn’t have expected for a sweeter return. “It’s great to be back,” Bopanna said. “There is no bigger honour. I think it started with being together the whole of last week. The more we spend time together, the better. During dinner, recovery sessions, in the pool, it all makes a difference. For the first time I think the whole team was together on a Sunday. It makes a big difference. It’s something to learn moving forward.”

Sriram Balaji, who made his Davis Cup debut, gave credit to Bhupathi and Bopanna for not allowing him to get ahead of himself. “Thanks to Rohan and Mahesh, they didn’t make me feel like my first tie,” the 27-year-old said. “Mahesh told me what to do and what not to do. I was a bit nervous. But the whole team was behind me.”