Last week when Prakash Amritraj pulled out of the China Futures, he gave everyone the shivers back home. One of the key players in India's Davis Cup team for the upcoming Asia-Oceania tie against Uzbekistan, Amritraj is prone to frequent injuries.
But after a few hours of his arrival on Friday, an ever-smiling Amritraj was down to business. "I am totally fit," he said. "I pulled out of the China Futures because it was too cold there. My body was getting stiff and I didn't want to take any chances."
"More than anything else, it was a precautionary step to not play in such low temperatures. I had played the doubles tie before playing the singles and I realised that the weather was not appropriate to play," said the world No. 267. "Just like me, many players opted out of the tournament."
Talking about the 2006 Davis Cup match against Uzbekistan on grass, which India won 5-0, Amritraj said that even though the hosts were favourites, it would be tougher this time around.
"We are the overwhelming favourites this time too. But with players like Denis Istomin and Farrukh Dustov who have refined their game since our previous tie, it would be tough to beat them," said the 25-year-old.
"I played Istomin the last time and also at a Challenger event in Vietnam. I think he has lifted his game and is a much improved player," he said.
Amritraj has a good record against Uzbekistan. He won both his singles matches in the 2006 tie, beating both Istomin and Dustov. "Yes, I have done well against them. It obviously boosts your morale. I hope I am able to do it this time too," he said.
Asked what the doubles combination will be with Leander Paes unlikely to play because of a ligament tear, Amritraj answered cautiously. "We have good options in doubles. We have Mahesh (Bhupathi), Rohan (Bopanna) and I, which is great for the team."