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Somdev to lead Indian challenge

Somdev Devvarman, who qualified and took a round at the US Open, will spearhead India's challenge at the Davis Cup World Group play-off against South Africa in Johannesburg from September 18-20. Deepti Patwardhan reports.

sports Updated: Sep 16, 2010 14:45 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

Teams
INDIA: Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna, Yuki Bhamri (reserve)
South Africa: Wesley Moodie, Jeff Coetzee, Rik de Voest, Izak van der Merwe, Raven Klaasen
Somdev Devvarman, who qualified and took a round at the US Open, will spearhead India's challenge at the Davis Cup World Group play-off against South Africa in Johannesburg from September 18-20. The All India Tennis Association retained the team that defeated Chinese Taipei in March this year, only bringing in Yuki Bhambri as the reserve.

Rohan Bopanna has been assigned the second singles duty for now but having undergone knee surgery recently, his fitness is an area of concern. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi as the doubles team complete India's squad.

"This was the best available side," said Akhtar Ali, one of the selectors. "Somdev should win both his singles matches, in my opinion. He has the game, keeps the ball in play and having come out of the college system is mentally very strong."

India's non-playing captain SP Misra also echoed the same confidence. "He came up with a remarkable show against Taipei last time," Misra said.

"We haven't given a thought to the second singles player yet. We will evaluate Rohan's fitness and then take a decision."

The hosts will be missing their highest-ranked player, Kevin Anderson. He has made himself unavailable for the tie. India have a 0-2 head-to-head against South Africa.