Delhi likely to host Davis Cup tie against Italy

A source close to the discussion revealed that the qualifier could be held at DLTA in February.

Delhi has recently hosted big teams such as Spain and Czech Republic at DLTA   -  Sandeep Saxena

Delhi has emerged as frontrunner to host the Davis Cup Qualifiers between India and Italy in February next year.

A total of 24 teams will play in the knockout Qualifiers on February 1 and 2 to decide which 12 teams will play the year-end Finals.

India lost its World Group Play-off to Serbia but due to its world rank of 20, it has a chance to make it to the finals.

Italy lost its quarterfinal this year and according to the new format , only four semifinalists from 2018 season along with two wild cards — Argentina and Britain — have a direct entry.

Twelve winners in February will join these six teams for the 18-team Finals in Madrid in November 2019.

“Delhi is likely to host the tie against Italy in February at DLTA as per the recent discussions,” an AITA source said.

Sources say that captain Mahesh Bhupathi, who is likely to get an extension, was keen to play on grass.

“But having it on grass in Delhi would have been very expensive,” the source said.

When reminded that Delhi Gymkhana would have been an option, the AITA source said, “Due to its proximity with the PM residence, there will be lot of restrictions for security reasons, so it was not feasible.”

The warm weather in Chennai would have been ideal for formidable Italy but the new TNTA president Vijay Amritraj had ruled out the option of hosting the tie, said another source privy to discussions.

Delhi has recently hosted big teams such as Spain and Czech Republic at DLTA but pleasant weather in February could work in favour of the visitor.

Also it has been learnt that most of the state associations, save MSLTA, are struggling for funds, thus DLTA has expressed strong desire to host the tie, which will only be third between India and Italy.

India will lock horns with Italy after 21 years as the last time the two teams clashed was in 1998 when Italy won the home tie in Genoa.

Italy has world number 13 Fabio Fognini, who made the final at the Chengdu Open last week, in its line up.