Davis Cup: Mahesh Bhupathi aware of potential in Chinese team

Mahesh Bhupathi speaks about India's upcoming Davis Cup tie against China in Tianjin.

India Davis Cup team captain, Mahesh Bhupathi.   -  R. Ragu

It will be an interesting match up against China when India plays the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-1 second round tie in Tianjin over two days in April.

The captain of the Indian team, multiple Grand Slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi is obviously keen to build on the fine performance of the Indian team against Canada in the World Group play-off last September, so as to make another attempt at entering the World Group this season.

Read: India to meet China in Davis Cup

Despite having been part of the team that had beaten China all the three times in the Davis Cup meetings between the two countries so far, Mahesh expressed a healthy respect for the talented opponent.

"Playing away always has its challenges. I think most of the boys are used to playing in China regularly in the season. It is an outdoor hard court tie, so the only factor is the weather and temperature, but
we need to be ready’’, Mahesh said.

As far as Davis Cup is concerned, India had played only once in China.

"I remember they played us in extreme cold conditions. Even though it was indoors, the heating was terrible. We had to play in our track suits. It is always a tough trip, but that is what Davis Cup is about’’, Mahesh recalled.

Apart from Ze Zhang and Di Wu, who have gained rich experience, China now has a Yibing Wu, who is rated high after he won the singles and doubles junior titles at the Australian Open.

"They are all dangerous players. The young one, I am told, is a special talent. We have depth and experience as well. So, we just have to counter it. It will be key for all the boys to get some wins on the Tour leading up to the tie’’, Mahesh observed.

The captain agreed that it was an obvious advantage to have a five-member team, instead of four, as the tie would be played over two days.

"I don’t have a plan yet. The  way I like to operate is, to watch everyone at practice. Take their current results into consideration, including the opposition, and see how best we can match up’’, Mahesh said.

Quite honest, Mahesh said that the new format may make it difficult at the zonal level, but felt that India could have a chance against the big teams at a later stage.

"At the Asia level, it is a disadvantage, to have short matches over two days. In general, we had the experience to pull off long matches, especially at home in our hot conditions. If we can get to the
qualifying and World Group, it would be an advantage, as it is easier to cause upsets in two out of three sets for us’’, Mahesh said.

What will be the plan for the captain in the run-up to the tie?

"Am in touch with all of them. We have to see how they do the week before. Few of them will be in Miami. As long as they are playing tournaments, we are good and ready’’, Mahesh concluded.