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Bhambri goes up against King-Turner in Cup opener

sports Updated: Sep 14, 2012 00:19 IST
Sharmistha Chaudhuri
Sharmistha Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
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When Yuki Bhambri was given the task to play the lead role in India's last Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan earlier this year, the 20-year-old took up the responsibility with gusto.

Despite losing on the opening day, he pulled off a remarkable upset by beating top Uzbek player Denis Istomin in the reverse singles.

With the Asia-Oceania Group 1 first round play-off tie at stake, a more mature Bhambri is confident that the team will score victory against New Zealand.

In the absence of senior players, the responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of four youngsters, one of whom will make his debut at the CLTA Stadium hardcourts.

Vishnu Vardhan, fresh from his London Olympics campaign with Leander Paes, has been given the role of the second singles specialist. The 25-year-old, who debuted against Japan last year, is quite aware of the enormous task ahead.

"I'm thankful of the trust the team has placed in me and I hope to give it my best shot," Vardhan said after the draw ceremony.

After the first day, provided he's not stretched to five sets, Vardhan will team up with 'doubles specialist' Divij Sharan on Saturday. The Delhi lad has won two Challengers in doubles this season and also achieved his highest doubles ranking of 94 this week.

Partnering either Bhambri or Vardhan on the circuit, the Davis Cup debutant has reached a comfort-level with both.

"It was only after the last day's practice session that we came to a decision. Sharan is sharp on court and has the skills and plays with Bhambri and Vardhan on tour," says non-playing captain SP Misra, but insisted: "Any of the six could have played."

Local lad Sanam Singh is Misra's 'trump card.'

"The choice was to either make Sanam play on the first day or keep him fresh in case the tie goes to the deciding rubber. We decided to go with the latter," Misra added.

As Bhambri and Vardhan sweated it out in the afternoon sun, the trio of Sanam and reserves N Sriram Balaji and Saketh Myneni had fun during a game of cricket with tennis racquets.

With heat and humidity playing a crucial factor in this tie, it's unlikely the home team will be at a disadvantage.