"We will be ready to compete hard," says Bhupathi ahead of Davis Cup clash against Canada

India faces a tough challenge as it goes up against Canada on September 15, with Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil leading the host's charge.

Captain Mahesh Bhupathi has put the team through a week-long training camp at Columbia and the team will now head to Canada ahead of the tie on September 15.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

It will be a tough task for India to match Canada in the Davis Cup, despite the host not having its best player, Milos Raonic, the Wimbledon runner-up last year, an effort that subsequently catapulted him to No. 3 in the world.

Multiple Grand Slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi, the captain of the Indian Davis Cup team this season, has been able to get the best support to ensure good preparation of the team in New York.

After a week-long training with a larger than originally planned support cast, Mahesh expressed satisfaction, as the team took off for Edmonton for the World Group play-off tie to be staged on indoor hard courts at the Northlands Coliseum from September 15 to 17.

"The preparations have been very good. The boys have been able to get a lot of indoor court time,’’ said Mahesh, when contacted by Sportstar in New York.

Apart from Sriram Balaji and Prajnesh Gunneswaran who were named as the reserves and reported for training in New York, the team also was able to get the top doubles combination of Purav Raja and Divij Sharan for a quality training stint.

"All the boys did well in the training camp. The goal was to work on the specifics which we did,’’ said Mahesh.

With Ramkumar Ramanathan and Yuki Bhambri, ranked 155 and 158 respectively, getting some impressive results in recent months on the professional Tour against some top players, there is a lot more belief on the Indian team than the last few years when it kept stumbling against top teams like the Czech Republic, Serbia and Spain in its attempt to make the World Group.

"Both Yuki and Ramkumar should be ready. They have had good summers and are feeling confident,’’ said Mahesh.

While Rohan Bopanna has been battle ready, competing at the highest level most of the time and getting good results, the focus will be on Saketh Myneni, the latest Arjuna awardee, as he has not been playing much on the professional circuit after his return from injury.

"Saketh has been working hard on getting his rhythm back. Am sure, with a few more tournaments, he will get there,’’ observed Mahesh.

The team’s indoor education and acclimatisation was done at one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, the Columbia University, established in 1754.

Mahesh was grateful for the facilities extended to the team. "Columbia Tennis hosted us and gave us everything we needed including access to their ice baths etc. and it really helped,’’ remarked Mahesh.

Even though Raonic may not be present to challenge the Indian team, Canada will have top class players in Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil ranked 69 and 78 in the world. Pospisil is also ranked 113 in doubles and likely to partner the seasoned Daniel Nestor for the pivotal doubles.

In fact, Pospisil had won both his singles in the World Group first round against England earlier this year before Shapovalov was defaulted in the fifth rubber for inadvertently smashing a ball at the umpire in anger.

"We will be ready to compete hard. So, let us wait and see," said Mahesh, when queried about the team’s chances of getting back into the elite World Group of 16 teams.

"The camp was a success. Now we have to go to Canada and get used to the court there,’’ said Mahesh, on a parting note.