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Acid test for India's young players against Serbia

sports Updated: Mar 03, 2011 11:48 IST
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India's young brigade, led by Somdev Devvarman, faces a stiff test of nerve and ability as it takes on top seed and defending champion Serbia in the Davis Cup World Group first round here, from Friday.

As if the tough opponents in their own den was not enough, India would miss the ever-reliable doubles duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi due to injuries.

It just makes the job for the Indian youngsters a lot more tough against a side, which boasts of World number three and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, top-20 player Viktor Troicki, number 45 Janko Tipsaveric and Nenad Zimonjic, a very formidable doubles player, featuring in top-five.

Djokovic is still undecided about playing the tie following his title win in Dubai but even without him Serbia has the class to outplay India.

Somdev played against world number two and Swiss legend Roger Federer in Dubai, losing in the opening round.

There is no comparison between the two sides and in the absence of Paes and Bhupathi, securing even one rubber out of five, would be considered a big achievement.

Yet again India's best chance of winning a rubber remains Somdev, who of late has been in good touch. He made his second ATP final in Johannesburg and jumped back into the top-100.

Rohan Bopanna has also done well in Davis Cup for India in the last few ties but this time around he will have to shoulder the responsibility of guiding the side in the doubles rubber.

He has the experience of playing big matches but does not have a strong partner to support.

Captain S P Misra and coach Nandan Bal hardly have strong options and most likely it will be either Somdev or Rastogi who will join forces with Bopanna.

It does not look like that Bhambri and Rastogi will get a chance to play until the fourth rubber. If the tie is decided on the second day itself, in favour of the hosts, Yuki and Rastogi may get to play for exposure.

Serbia and India are locked 1-1 in Davis Cup records. India had defeated Yugoslavia 3-0 in an away tie in 1927 and lost 2-3 at home in New Delhi in 1988.

India secured its place in the elite 16 for the second straight year after defeating Brazil 3-2 in the play-offs in Chennai.

Serbia has defeated France 3-2, overcoming a 0-2 deficit to be crowned champions for the first time.