Singles the focus this time
The Davis Cup squad announced on Tuesday for the Asia/Oceania tie against Uzbekistan in April saw a major change. In a departure from the time-tested practice of including three doubles specialists, two singles players have made the cut this time.
With Somdev Devvarman (No. 135), out of contention with a shoulder injury, 19-year-old Yuki Bhambri is the selectors' first choice in singles. The world No. 280 had won his debut Davis Cup rubber in 2009. Sanam Singh, the recent winner of two back-to-back ITF $10000 tournaments, has been included as the second singles player. The 24-year-old, ranked No. 612, will be making his maiden appearance. World No. 337 Vishnu Vardhan (24) has been named as reserve.
Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna will be playing doubles after Mahesh Bhupathi opted out. "Our goal was to take three singles players as we have to play four singles rubbers. Since we will be playing on slow clay courts, Sanam and Yuki were our best options," captain SP Misra told HT.
"Paes and Bopanna were our best doubles option. Going by rankings, Bhupathi suggested that these two should play," selector Akhtar Ali said. Paes is ranked No. 7 and Bopanna No. 8 in the ATP chart while Bhupathi comes in at No. 12. "The aim is to win against their second singles player and the doubles," he said. World No. 51 Denis Istomin is the highest-ranked Uzbek with Farrukh Dustov (No. 269) next.
However, it was clarified that this selection did not hint at the squad that would be chosen for the Olympics. That call would be taken later.