India will have to travel to Canada for a tough Davis Cup World Group Playoffs encounter in September this year. This is the first meeting between the two countries, and Canada -- a seeded team ranked higher than India -- got the right to host the match through draw of lots.
India had defeated Uzbekistan 4-1 in Bangalore over the weekend to reach the playoffs round for the fourth successive year. India would be happy to have avoided higher-ranked countries such as Argentina, Germany and Czech Republic in the draw, which was conducted in London on Tuesday.
Last year in the playoffs, India had lost 0-5 to Spain, who went on to reach the quarterfinals, losing to Novak Djokovic-led Serbia 4-1.
#DavisCup World Group play-off draw: Canada 🇨🇦 v India 🇮🇳 in Canada— Davis Cup (@DavisCup) April 11, 2017
However, Canada, who lost to Great Britain 3-2 in the World Group Round 1 in February when Denis Shapovalov was disqualified after he erroneously hit the chair umpire with a ball, will bank on players like Vasek Pospisil (119) and Peter Polansky (127) besides the 17-year-old Shapovalov (172).
India are likely to be at full strength for the tie with the injured Saketh Myneni and Yuki Bhambri expected to join Ramkumar Ramanathan for singles action.
Indian tennis fans will keep a close eye on how non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi goes about picking his four-man squad for the crucial tie after his selection criteria caused a major controversy in Bangalore, with Leander Paes accusing him of bias.
Will Bhupathi again opt for three singles players and a lone doubles specialist or take two singles and two doubles players, pairing Paes with Rohan Bopanna?
Canada’s singles players are ranked higher than their Indian counterparts and putting up a strong doubles combination could, at least, keep the Indian hopes alive till the third and final day.
Bhupathi will also have to take into account the fact that the September tie will be played a week after the US Open and his top doubles players might be tired if they reach the last rounds of the Grand Slam.
Whatever call Bhupathi and All India Tennis Association take, it will be a good opportunity for India to return to the World Group after a long time.