Ramkumar and Prajnesh bask in Davis Cup glory

Ramkumar and Prajnesh are looking to improve their world singles rankings and cement their place in the Davis Cup squad when Canada hosts India in the World Group play-offs.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran with Ramkumar Ramanathan.   -  M. Karunakaran

Fresh from playing a crucial role in India’s 4-1 win over Uzbekistan in the Asia Oceania Group I round two clash in Bangalore recently, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran are basking in the limelight, and are eager to improve on their world singles rankings and cement their place in the Davis Cup squad when Canada hosts India from September 15 to 17 in the World Group play-offs.

“Rankings will be one of the main criteria to get into the [Davis Cup] team. Form will be another factor and choice of the courts whether it is hard or slow will play another big part. [Milos] Raonic and [Vasek] Pospisil are big servers. It could be hard courts, you never know,” said Prajnesh on Wednesday.

Prajnesh, who is ranked 286 in the world, added: “Mahesh (who is the non-playing captain) told us in Davis Cup we always have a chance.” His immediate focus, however, will be on qualifying for the Grand Slams.

Ramkumar approves his team-mate’s goal: “He [Prajnesh] can do it.”

Ramkumar, who is ranked 269 in the world, said defeating Uzbekistan was very crucial.

“It was an important tie for us to get into the World Group play-offs. Everyone wants to be there,” he said. "More important, we played as a team.”

Concurring with Ramkumar, Prajnesh said: “The team dynamics was excellent. Having [Srira]) Balaji, Ram [Ramkumar] was great, and Bopanna, too helped us.”

Whether Ramkumar ever faced any pressure playing as the country’s spearhead in the absence of senior pro like Yuki Bhambri, despite he was playing his fourth Davis Cup tie, he said: “There was absolutely no pressure. We knew well before about Yuki [Bhambri] and Sumit [Nagal]'s injury. The 2-0 lead turned the match in our favour.”

When asked whether the Leander-Mahesh spat affected the team in any way, Ramkumar refused to answer. However, Prajnesh said: “Mahesh kept us away from all of it. Our focus was on our matches and the tactics we should employ. Seriously, it didn’t affect us at all.”

Making his Davis Cup debut against the Uzbeks, Prajesh handled the pressure better than he thought he would.

“I couldn’t have done better,” he said. “This is the first time where I played a full season without any injuries.”

Prajnesh and Ramkumar will next compete in a Challengers to be held in Taipei next week. India last made it to the World Group in 2010 where it lost to Russia 2-3 in the first round.