It took Tsung-Hua Yang three days and four flight changes to get from Maui, Hawaii—where he reached the final of a Challenger event last week—to Indore. It will be up to India’s Yuki Bhambri to pack him off in the opening singles of the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania round one tie in Indore on Friday.
The luck of the draw meant that the 22-year-old will go up first against Yang, who has been promoted to being the No 1 Chinese Taipei player in the absence of their top singles players - Yen-Hsun Lu (54) and Jimmy Wang (154).
While Bhambri, who made it to the quarterfinals of the Chennai Open and reached thedoubles third round of the Australian Open, is quietly confident of his chances, he is also mindful of his opponents’ form and the nerves that play a part in Davis Cup outings.
“We haven’t played each other before but I know his game well,” said Bhambri. “He’s a good player, made the finals of the Challenger last week. Hopefully, I can go out there and get the first win for India.”
“Of course we don’t play a lot of five setter given they are only played in Grand Slams and Davis Cups, but I have been putting an extra hour or so in training since the last year to help me last longer on the court,” added Bhambri. “If the weather stays this way, physically, at least it shouldn’t be a problem to last five sets.”
In the second match of the day, Somdev Devvarman goes up againt Ti Chen, who at 284 is ranked a 180 places lower than the Indian in the ATP charts. But Devvarman himself hasn’t had a stellar start to the year, losing in the first round of the Chennai Open as well as the Australian Open.
“I did not play my best on that day (Chennai Open) and in Australia as well unfortunately the guy (Ramkumar Ramanathan) was better than me on that day,” he said on the eve of the tie.
“I would have loved to have more matches coming. But whether you are in good form or not your approach towards playing a Davis Cup match does not change. I have been practicing incredibly hard in the last couple of weeks.”
On the face of it, as especially with Taipei’s top two players opting out, it looks like a march for India. But after that stutter last year, where the opening tie was sacrificed as the players and association were locked in a power struggle, it is crucial to get the job done here get them back in reckoning to qualify for the World Group.
Yuki Bhambri (173) v Tsung-Hua Yang (216)
Somdev Devvarman (103) v Ti Chen (284)
Rohan Bopanna/Saketh Myneni v Hsin-Yin Peng/Hsin-Han Lee
Somdev Devvarman v Tsung-Hua Yang
Yuki Bhambri v Ti Chen