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India Take On Brazil In Davis Cup World Group

Chennai, Sep 16 : India will look to exploit a favourable surface, weather conditions and form of its players to reclaim a berth in the Davis Cup World Group as the hosts take on formidable
PTI September 16, 2010 16:35 IST
PTI
Chennai, Sep 16 : India will look to exploit a favourable surface, weather conditions and form of its players to reclaim a berth in the Davis Cup World Group as the hosts take on formidable Brazil in the play-off tie here from  Friday.  

India came to this tie after losing the World Group first round to Russia in March this year while Brazil whitewashed Uruguay 5-0 in the Americas Zone group I semifinals in May. India have tasted success consistently in the Asia-Oceania Group and went on to break the World Group jinx after 11 years following a win over South Africa in 2009.

Brazil, a clay court specialist nation, last played in World Group in 2003 against Sweden and have been trying ever since to make it to the elite club. September has been an unlucky month in the last few years for them as they lost to Ecuador, Croatia, Austria and Sweden in the play-off ties.

Traditionally India have chosen grass courts to host a Davis Cup tie but due to liking of Somdev Devvarman, its best singles players currently, it preferred hard courts for the tie, first at home in two years. The last time India hosted a tie on a non-grass surface was in 1979 when it played against Australia on clay.

Comparing the two sides ranking wise, India do not have a single top-100 player with Somdev being the best at 113 and Rohan Bopanna a distant 479 but the doubles team Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi is undoubtedly a class apart, unbeaten in the last 23 ties. Paes will, infact, mark 20 years in the Davis Cup circuit when he takes the court on Saturday.

Brazil boast world number 27 Thomaz Belluci and 75th ranked Ricardo Mello and also have a solid doubles team in Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo, who are ranked 16th.

Yet, a few things go in favour of India as its players, specially Somdev, have done exceedingly well on hard courts to turn the ties in his team's favour while Brazil have not won a Davis Cup tie on hard court since 1991 and have played on the surface just eight times in its 62-year history.

The rankings may show a wide gulf between the players of the two nations, but Somdev and Bopanna have time and again proved their disdain for them.

Bopanna, despite concentrating more on doubles, has done well in Davis Cup singles of late. In India's WG play-off win over South Africa, Bopanna had played an important role by beating Rik De Voest.  In the lost tie against Russia, the only singles win came from Bopanna when he beat Teimuraz Gabashvili.

His confidence, after a historic performance at the just concluded US Open will also be sky high.Somdev on his day can beat any player in the world, hence despite having superiorly ranked players, Brazil will face a tough job.  Adding to their disadvantage would be the hot and humid conditions here. In the end, it will be an intense tie in which both teams will go with equal chances to win. The losing team will play its respective Zone in 2011. PTI