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Yuki, Vishnu set to carry singles hopes

sports Updated: Sep 12, 2012 23:56 IST
Sharmistha Chaudhuri
Sharmistha Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
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The speculation regarding which of the two youngsters would be the singles flag-bearers in the Asia/Oceania Group I relegation play-off against New Zealand finally ended late Wednesday night.

The chosen two are India's top-ranked singles player Yuki Bhambri (world No 179) and Vishnu Vardhan (No 262).

Doubles specialist and reserve player Divij Sharan also made the team. Sharan, who recently broke into the top 100 in the doubles, is likely to play on the second day with Vardhan.

The fast hard courts are not suited to local lad Sanam Singh's style of play according to the team think tank.

However, if Vardhan is stretched in a long match on the opening day, it is possible that the doubles combo may be reconfigured to include Sanam. The local player, Sanam, is also a possibility for the reverse singles.

While Bhambri has had a successful year on the circuit, having played the US Open and Wimbledon qualifiers, Vardhan had a good outing in London partnering Leander Paes in the Olympics where they reached the second round.

"We have a good bunch of players. The fast courts should favour us. So, we really should be able to win the tie," said a confident Bhambri. Vardhan echoed his thoughts.

Sharan's great year
Sharan has had a great year so far. Not only did he win two Challengers doubles titles, but last week he made the final in Shanghai partnering Bhambri. He plays doubles on the tour regularly with Vardhan and they should be able to combine well on the CLTA hard court.

"Of the six youngsters in the squad, any four are capable of playing the tie. They've all been working hard and are fit," is what non-playing captain SP Misra had said earlier in the day when questioned about the team combination.

Having changed his stance from a day before when he said the plan was to stick to the original four with two reserves; a change was likely. The afternoon practice session saw all the six team members hitting against each other. While Bhambri practiced his baseline shots on the centre court, Vardhan and Sharan practised their net-game with Saketh Myneni and Sanam.

The deciding factor in this Davis Cup tie would be the heat and humidity.

"The hotter it is, the better it is for us!" claimed Misra. However, according to his New Zealand counterpart Marcel Vos, his players have been getting acclimatized to the conditions the past three weeks.

"These are challenging conditions but we should be able to tackle it," Vos said.