Prajnesh to open Davis Cup tie for India against Finland

The 26-year-old Ramkumar, ranked 187, has been playing well on the circuit, and it is not beyond him to cause a surprise on the opening day.

Otto Virtanen and Prajnesh Gunneswaran on the eve of the tie in Finland.   -  Finnish Tennis Association

Prajnesh Gunneswaran will open the challenge for India against the 419th ranked Otto Virtanen in the Davis Cup tie against Finland on the indoor hard courts of the Espoo Metro Arena on Friday.

"We are happy that our No.1 player, Prajnesh will play the first match. If he plays to potential, we should have a 1-0 lead, which can put their No.1 player under pressure. We are happy with the draw," said the captain of the Indian team, Rohit Rajpal.

There has been some injury worries about the 31-year-old Prajnesh, ranked 165th in the world. However, coach Zeeshan Ali reiterated that Prajnesh was striking the ball well and in good shape.

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"Prajnesh has been hitting the ball well. There was some worry about his worry about his wrist two weeks ago when I spoke to him. After that he went to Chennai and did a rehab.  He is moving and playing well," observed Zeeshan.

Ramkumar Ramanathan will take on the Finnish No.1 player, the 74th ranked Emil Ruusuvuori in the second rubber on the opening day.

Even though the 22-year-old Ruusuvuori has been playing in the big league, and has a win over Dominic Thiem before the pandemic in Davis Cup, it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure in front of the home fans, albeit limited in number.

In his last tie in March last year, Ramkumar had played a solid match against Marin Cilic when he lost in two tie-breaks.

The 26-year-old Ramkumar, ranked 187, has been playing well on the circuit, and it is not beyond him to cause a surprise on the opening day.

In the pivotal doubles, the Asian Games champions Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will play Henri Kontinen, the former world No.1 doubles player, and Harri Heliovaara, in the first of three matches on the second day.

The top eight ranked winners of the 12 World Group-1 ties, based on the ranking to be released on September 20, will make the Qualifiers draw for next year. The other four winners will play a knock-out in November to decide two more teams for Qualifiers.

The losing nations will play the World Group play-off next year. For the record, India is ranked No.6 among the 24 teams for the WorldGroup-1 tie.

The draw:

Friday: Prajnesh Gunneswaran vs Otto Virtanen (8.30 p.m. IST); Ramkumar Ramanathan vs Emil Ruusuvuori.

Saturday: Rohan Bopanna & Divij Sharan vs Harri Heliovaara & Henri Kontinen (4.30 p.m. IST); Prajnesh v Emil Ruusuvuori; Ramkumar vs Otto Virtanen.

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