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‘Expect a great effort’

India's Davis Cup fortunes in the World Group play-off tie against Romania this weekend will revolve around Somdev Devvarman’s clay court prowess, reports K Kumaraswamy.

sports Updated: Sep 16, 2008 23:52 IST
K Kumaraswamy

India's Davis Cup fortunes in the World Group play-off tie against Romania this weekend will revolve around Somdev Devvarman’s clay court prowess and the promising youngster is cautiously optimistic of coming through the test.

The Indians take on Romania in Bucharest in the September 19-21 tie where victory will mean a return to the World Group for the first time in 10 years. Taming Romania in their own lair is tough but looking at the rest of World Group first round losers whom India could have drawn — for instance visit Serbia or Chile, or host the Netherlands or Belgium— things could have been worse.

Much will depend on India’s ability to win both singles though. It has eluded India repeatedly and stunted progress over the past decade. However, with the 23-year-old Devvarman showing good form on the Tour and clay being his favourite surface, things look positive.

“Clay is definitely a surface that I’m comfortable on. As for expectations, you can expect a great effort and keep your fingers crossed for a win. I want to go out and play with my heart on my sleeve for my country,” Devvarman told HT from Bucharest on Tuesday. “I have a Davis Cup experience that I can look back and learn from. It’s always easier playing a tie after you have one under your belt.”

Devvarman became the first player to successfully defend his singles title in the US college championship, the NCAA. He also reached the quarter-finals in a Tour meet in Washington last July and won two Futures titles on clay in the USA in June. Therefore, it came as a no surprise when he was picked ahead of Rohan Bopanna for the tie.

“Even though Rohan was not selected for this tie, he is still an integral part of this team,” Devvarman said.

The Romanian team comprises Viktor Hanescu, Adrian Cruciat, Victor Crivoi and Horia Tecau with Florin Sergaceanu as captain. Hanescu, 27, is expected to lead their campaign while the second singles could be a toss up between Cruciat, 25, or Crivoi, 26, both of whom having spent the entire season playing on the red dirt.

Being the second-highest ranked player after Prakash Amritraj, Devvarman would be up against Hanescu, ranked 67 in the world.

“We are up against a tough and experienced opposition. We need to back ourselves and make sure we execute our plans well in order to beat players like Hanescu and Cruciat. I have done everything in my control to prepare myself for this tie.”

Devvarman played the ATP Tour event in Bucharest last week, coming through the qualifying round before losing in the main draw first round. He has also had enough time to get acclimatised. “I think that helps me out a lot. That and the good practices we have had so far with the team have been great for my preparations for the tie," he said.