Davis Cup: Anand backtracks views on evening schedule

"After the last three days, I have changed my mind. Without Rohan Bopanna to play doubles. the burden is on Saketh. The 5 p.m. start is a good option. We have to make do with what we have," said Anand.

Rafael Nadal, Leander Paes, Davis Cup World Group play-off New Delhi

Rafael Nadal and Leander Paes oblige fans with photographs after the practice session in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Captain Anand Amritraj revised his views on playing in the evening, especially owing to the possibility of Saketh Myneni playing doubles with seven-time Olympian Leander Paes on Saturday.

"After the last three days, I have changed my mind. Without Rohan Bopanna to play doubles. the burden is on Saketh. The 5 p.m. start is a good option. We have to make do with what we have," said Anand.

The captain stated that Spain was the best team assembled against India in the last 25 years and that it would be a challenge to fight it.

In the pre-draw press conference, there were many light-hearted moments which showed that both the teams were not anxious. After there had been a lot of arguments for and against the evening matches, Anand joked that Feliciano Lopez had looked drained after a training session in the day.

The Spanish captain, former Wimbledon women's champion Conchita Martinez, dismissed any speculation on the weather being a factor by saying that the professional players were used to tough conditions in Australia and the U.S., and were ready to win.

There was further amusement when Leander Paes said with a straight face that the captain and the coach were the fourth and fifth options to partner him for doubles, as he already had three options in the team.

Anand said he would observe the matches on the first day before deciding whether to pair Paes with Saketh or Sumit Nagal.

Having been pushed to the zonal competition in the last two years, the Spaniards, spearheaded by Rafael Nadal, showed a lot of respect for the Indian players even though they had not played against them on the Tour. Paes, obviously was known, as Nadal himself recalled his exploits in the doubles world in the last 20 years, but the Spaniards were not willing to take any player lightly.

‘’In Davis Cup, special things can always happen. We lost when we were favourites. We have maximum respect for India,’’ said Nadal.

Anand admitted that the doubles gave India the best shot at winning a rubber, even though Marc Lopez had won the Olympics gold with Nadal and the French Open with Feliciano Lopez. ‘’It will be quite a battle for us. Hopefully, we will challenge them on the first day. If my body and mind permit, I will be ready for three days," said Saketh.

‘’I am interested in knowing whom I get to play doubles with. Saketh is a natural ad court player, big serve and big wing span at the net. The young gun, Sumit Nagal is a junior Wimbledon doubles champion like me. It is a chance for me to nurture him in his first tie against a tough team," said Paes.

Anand revealed that Divij Sharan had the chance to be in the squad and play the doubles, before Bopanna pulled out, but the player had declined to be a reserve as he wanted to compete in tournaments on the Tour.

Ramkumar Ramanathan said that the focus of the team was to win a rubber, and playing a strong team meant that the players could be at their best as they had nothing to lose. ‘’I hope our boys can bring their A game and make the tie interesting,’’ said Anand.

When asked whether he was looking at getting the singles record for India in Davis Cup, Leander Paes said he may play the dead rubber if the captain wanted. Anand responded by saying he "would love to".

In the tie against Korea, Bopanna had to play the singles on the third day and won the dead rubber on grass. Nadal was no less witty with his response when he said that David Ferrer was his toughest opponent.

Touching on the time that he was out owing to injury, Nadal said that every opponent was tough for him these days. He hoped that the crowd would show some respect for the Spaniards even though it may support the home team.

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