Though India’s Davis Cup journey back in the World Group started on a rather disastrous note, they were thrown a lifeline on Tuesday. India will play Brazil at home in the World Group play-off from September 17-19 for a chance to stay in tennis’ elite-16.
India won back a spot in the World Group after a strong finish last year, when they beat South Africa 4-1 in Johannesburg. But, in what was to be a cold initiation to the top league, the score-line was reversed as Russia blew off India’s challenge in Moscow earlier this year.
It will now rest on the shoulders of Somdev Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi to retain their place in the World Group. Brazil, ranked 18 to India’s 13, cannot be underestimated, but India could’ve faced far worse with teams like USA, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland in the fray.
Post Gustavo Kuerten, tennis talent from Brazil has been few and far between but the team has a rising star in Thomaz Bellucci. The 22-year-old, currently ranked 26, climbed from 90 to 36 in 2009 and has two career ATP titles to his name. They have two other players in the top-100 — Ricardo Mello (92), and Marcos Daniel (99) — who could step up to the singles duty.
India, who will be playing their first home tie since hosting Japan in April 2008, are likely to choose hard courts over grass. Though the venue has not been decided yet, Chennai, Indore and New Delhi are the frontrunners.