Bengaluru to host India’s next Davis Cup tie in April

The last time India played in Bengaluru was in September 2014 when the host lost 2-3 to formidable Serbia in a World Group Play-off tie.

V. Sreenivasa Murthy

The KSLTA Stadium in Bengaluru.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Bengaluru has been chosen to host the next Davis Cup Asia-Oceania group-1 tie against Uzbekistan from April 7 to 9. In a release issued here on Thursday, the secretary general of the All India Tennis Association (AITA), Hironmoy Chatterjee, stated that the Karnataka Lawn Tennis Association would host the tie.

The newly-inducted captain of the Davis Cup team, multiple Grand Slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi was happy with AITA accepting the request of the team. "We have some bombers in our team. So, the quick conditions there should suit them," said Mahesh, when contacted on the choice of the venue.

"Hope we can take advantage of the conditions," said Yuki Bhambri who made a robust return to the Davis Cup squad after a year in hibernation, when he was nursing a painful tennis elbow.

With Denis Istomin being in such brilliant form, as he showed in helping Uzbekistan beat a strong Korea in Davis Cup, and also beat Novak Djokovic on a wild card at the Australian Open, Mahesh conceded that doubles would "be critical."

The AITA would ask for the availability of the top six singles players and the top four doubles players before deciding on the combination for the tie. The performance of the players on the professional circuit would be watched with interest in arriving at the best possible team that could take India to the World Group play-off for the fourth year on the trot.

Bengaluru had hosted the World Group play-off tie against a formidable Serbia in 2014, and India had pushed the team hard, which was without Djokovic, to a decisive fifth rubber.

India had cruised past New Zealand 4-1 in the first round tie recently in Pune, though it lost the doubles to the better ranked team of Michael Venus and Artem Sitak. With Saketh Myneni pulling out on the eve of the tie owing to a foot injury, Vishnu Vardhan flew down from Hyderabad to join Leander Paes. The duo lost the doubles rubber in four sets.

Like in 2014, when India took on Serbia in the World Group Playoff, Bengaluru's higher altitude seems to have been the prime reason behind the city being chosen as the venue. The hope is that the high bouncing surface will catch the visiting team by surprise.

Though India's frontline singles player Yuki Bhambri struggled here against Serbia, losing both the rubbers, his subsequent performances in Pune, a city with similar attributes to that of Bengaluru, were impressive. He won an ATP Challenger event in 2015 and both his singles matches against New Zealand earlier this month.

Also, Denis Istomin's game seems to have played a part. The bi-spectacled Uzbek hits the ball mostly flat and in the absence of enough spin, the ball might just fly. This, it is expected, will present him with a new problem to solve.

Meanwhile, R. Ashoka, Senior Vice President KSLTA, Chairman of Organising Committee and former Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, welcomed the decision to hold the tie in Bengaluru. "The KSLTA has played host to some amazing tennis events here. We are thankful to the Hon’ble Chief Minister for having extended his support to make this possible. We are confident of making this a successful event," he said.