Petr Lebed: ‘We have four options if Istomin is ruled out’

Uzbekistan’s Davis Cup team captain said the seriousness of Denis Istomin’s injury would be known only after a diagnosis.

Uzbekistan’s team was used to warm conditions as in India, says Petr Lebed.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Uzbekistan Davis Cup team captain Petr Lebed on Tuesday said his squad had four options if Denis Istomin was ruled out of the tie against India due to a foot injury.

“We have four options if Denis (Istomin) doesn’t come. They are all different players and I’ll decide later who to play,” he told reporters at Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association’s stadium here.

Lebed said the seriousness of Istomin’s injury would be known only after a diagnosis. “He (Istomin) is undergoing a medical check up and we will know by today (Tuesday) afternoon what the diagnosis is. We will know the seriousness of it then,” he said.

Asked how the team would prepare in Istomin’s absence, Lebed said preparations have been normal because all the players have been training in various parts of the world. “Preparations have been going on as normal. Sanjar (Fayziev) was playing a tournament in Bahrain. Temur Ismailov was preparing in Greece. Denis (Istomin) was in the U.S.A. while Farrukh Dustov was preparing in Tashkent,” he said.

Lebed said both teams stood equal chance of winning the upcoming tie. “Both are young teams. It’s like a 50-50 game and after the first day, we will see how it goes,” he said.

Lebed said the weather in India was warm and his team used to it. “The weather is similar to what we are used to. Warm. We just want to thank everyone for the hospitality,” he said.

Replying to a query, Lebed’s team member Dustov said he would be ready to play on all three days of the contest. “I have been playing since 2005. At the beginning it was not easy to play all three days but I am used to it now having played for 10 years. Of course, to play singles, then doubles and then play again on the third day, it’s not easy. I am ready to play [on] all three days,” he added.

The decision, however, will be up to the captain, Dustov said. “I am ready to play. Fitness-wise I am fine. I haven’t played since December but I’ve been training. Right-hand injury,” he said.

Psychological pressure

On the lack of experience in both teams, Dustov said the host has an advantage. He acknowledged the ‘pressure’ that the tournament brings with it. “Davis Cup is different. We don’t play for ourselves but for our country. So we have to manage the pressure. I always play Davis Cup. It’s a lot of pressure. Once we start to play, its great,” he said.

“I like to play the Davis Cup because there’s a lot of pressure and handling that pressure makes me stronger. Here, I have to play everyone. Once you there on the court, you have to play and fight for it no matter who the opponent is,” Dustov said.

Replying to a query, Sanjar said he had played the Davis Cup a couple of times. “I have played a couple of times in the Davis Cup before and it’s a different type of pressure - it’s psychological. We have been preparing for a while for this and I am fit to play,” he said.

Another young player, Ismailov said, “I have not played the Davis Cup. I have played rubber matches. I am excited to play my first match and I am in good shape, ready to play this game.”

On the rivalry between India veterans Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, Dustov said, “We don’t know anything about this. It’s the first time I am hearing about this rivalry.”