Free entry for Davis Cup tie despite Nadal presence

Apart from 14-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic champion Rafael Nadal, who added the men’s doubles gold in the Rio Olympics recently with Marc Lopez, Spain will have world No.13 David Ferrer and No.18 Feliciano Lopez.

Spain has lost only one tie when Rafael Nadal was part of the team.   -  REUTERS

The enthusiasm and energy of the organisers has gone up manifold after the nomination of Rafael Nadal for the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie to be played at the RK Khanna Stadium here from September 16 to 18.

Yet, the organisers have stuck to the plan of free entry, even though they could have easily sold tickets with Spain fielding such a world class team. Apart from 14-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic champion Rafael Nadal, who added the men’s doubles gold in the Rio Olympics recently with Marc Lopez, Spain will have world No.13 David Ferrer and No.18 Feliciano Lopez.

Nadal has, incidentally, been part of the team four out of five times when it won the Davis Cup. In his entire career, while reaching a win-loss record of 26-5 in Davis Cup, Spain has lost only one tie when Nadal was part of the team.

With ten players in the top-50 rank of the world, any Spanish team would have been strong for India spearheaded by the 143rd ranked Saketh Myneni and the 202nd ranked Ramkumar Ramanathan as the second singles player.

The organisers insisted that it was a practical decision to have the matches in the evening under floodlights, with a 5 p.m. start for the singles and 7 p.m. start for the doubles.

The fact that the 28-year-old Saketh had suffered a bout of cramps both in the Davis Cup tie in Chandigarh on grass against Korea and later in the US Open first round when he lost from the brink of victory, did demand a dispassionate approach towards handling the tie.

It may be recalled that Nadal with his brother Toni Nadal had conducted a clinic for children at the DLTA Complex during the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), and it was almost like a stampede in court No.1. A lot of children who wanted to watch the clinic could not make it as there was no space.

The centre court with its capacity of about 4000 seats should provide a great opportunity for the children and the tennis enthusiasts to watch world class players, even though they may be tempted to be patriotic and support the national team.

The organisers are busy drawing a good plan for the distribution of passes, even though they had started giving them a few days back, when the demand was muted. The passes will be given at the DLTA.

The Indian team is expected to start assembling by Sunday, and there was no word as yet about the arrival of the Spanish team.

Even though India had played Serbia and Czech Republic in the last two years in the World Group play-off in Bengaluru and Delhi respectively, the two teams were without their leading players Novak Djokovic and Thomas Berdych respectively. India did put up a good performance against both, when it had its leading players Yuki Bhambri and Somdev Devvarman, both of whom are recovering from injuries now.

The organisers were also hoping that the strong Spanish team for the tie would lead to good sponsorship support from the corporate world.