Barely out of his teens, Yuki Bhambri is on the threshold of facing the biggest challenge of his young tennis career.
The 20-year-old is the country's top-ranked singles player and will be leading a relatively in-experienced Indian outfit - also comprising Vishnu Vardhan, Sanam Singh and Saketh Myneni - against New Zealand in their Davis Cup tie, starting on September 14 in Chandigarh.
While the Delhi boy makes light of his status on the ranking charts, he is clear about the need for a collective effort for success in the upcoming event.
"Being top-ranked doesn't help in Davis Cup. What matters is whether you have won your match or not. Against New Zealand, we all four have to contribute to ensure the country's victory. Playing in front of the local crowd will certainly be an advantage," said the former junior world number 1, who is placed 179th in the world.
Bhambri and Divij Sharan (reserve player in the Davis Cup team) were runners-up in last week's Shanghai Challengers. He felt the performance had given their confidence a major boost. The pair reached their third final in the last three months.
"The last few weeks have gone well for me. And coming into the Davis Cup with the runners-up trophy is certainly a morale booster," said Bhambri, adding that if the need arises he was ready to play the doubles as well.
"However, the possibility of playing the doubles depends on how we fare on the opening day. We also have the option of pairing Vardhan and Sharan as both have partnered many times."
With veterans Paes and Bhupathi missing from the squad, Bhambri felt, with all their experience, the duo was irreplaceable. "Both are still very competitive and it will take a long time to replace them. However, with them not being around, it is also an opportunity for us youngsters to rise to the occasion and cement our places in the Indian team."
As far as Davis Cup experience is concerned, New Zealand hold the edge: their team members have played a total of 70 matches. It is certainly higher as compared to the five matches played by Indian team members; Bhambri has featured in three while Sanam and Vardhan have played one each.
"I don't think that will be a hindrance," said Bhambri. "We have the talent and the firepower to pull off victories. We will go out there and give our best. I am looking forward to the tie and have lot of fun on the courts."