Zeeshan Ali: ‘Indoor courts will make it a high-quality tie’

“The conditions are perfect playing on indoor courts as there is no outside elements to worry about like wind and sun. The quality of tennis automatically goes up by about 20 per cent,” India’s Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali said.

Zeeshan Ali says India has the best chance to make it the World Group this year.   -  Sudhakara Jain

India’s Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali is expecting high-quality tennis during the upcoming tie against Canada since external factors like the sun and the wind will have no chance to influence the contest on the indoor courts.

Zeeshan said Indian players are expected to do well in the World Group Play-off tie, starting September 15 in Edmonton.

“Playing indoors is something our players like, especially Yuki (Bhambri). He played top class tennis the last time we played indoors against New Zealand. I don’t really see any disadvantages for us but then it also doesn’t give us any advantage over them,” Zeeshan told PTI from Edmonton.

“The conditions are perfect playing on indoor courts as there is no outside elements to worry about like wind and sun. The quality of tennis automatically goes up by about 20 per cent,” he said.

Both Zeeshan and former captain S.P. Misra are of the view that India stand a better chance to make the World Group when compared to last three years when team had to contend with formidable Serbia, Czech Republic and Spain.

These three teams had come to India with a formidable line-up but the biggest threat that the country faces from Canada is rising star and World No. 51 in Denis Shapovalov apart from leading doubles exponent Daniel Nestor.

World No. 11 Milos Raonic is missing from the line-up of the host due to a wrist injury, which also forced him to skip the US Open.

“With Raonic injured, we expected this team except Brayden Schnur, who is a bit of an unknown entity. Denis Shapovalov is having a great post Wimbledon season and is in form. It won’t be an easy tie but the chances are the best we have had in four years,” Zeeshan said.

The biggest threat that the country faces from Canada is rising star and World No. 51 in Denis Shapovalov apart from leading doubles exponent Daniel Nestor.

Misra, who was shunted out from the job following a players revolt led by Somdev Devvarman, is amused that after his stint as captain, the team has not managed to cross the Play-off hurdle even once.

“I took the team to World Group twice (2010 vs Russia and 2011 vs Serbia) but still it was alleged that I was not up to the mark. Now it’s time that someone else takes the team to World Group,” Misra said.

On the insistence of the players, the AITA had made changes in playing conditions and changed support staff, installing Anand Amritraj in place of Misra.

Under Amritraj, Indian team thrice reached the Play-off stage after dominating the Asian region, but AITA early this year replaced Amritraj with Mahesh Bhupathi.

“We have a very fair chance, if not best, when compared to last few years. Canada players have higher rankings but our preparation has been good. Yuki and Ramkumar are doing well of late and Rohan too has a win over Daniel Nestor.

“Saketh is serving well and I am sure, it will be a close tie,” reckons Misra.

Zeeshan said having a one-week training camp on the indoor courts at University of Columbia has served the Indian team’s cause.

“Having this camp was a very good idea as fitness is a cause of concern with our players. It gave us more time to evaluate players, who might be nursing an injury or are not fit enough to play five sets on consecutive days even if they are not injured.

“The camp went off very well. We did about four hours of training everyday. Most importantly, we got to practice indoors. We also played matches on the last day of the camp with the Columbia tennis team,” he said.