New Delhi: With a World Group place at stake, taking on Serbia is a big challenge even in a home Davis Cup tie and India must go with "maximum experience" against the world number two team, says doubles exponent Rohan Bopanna. India's recent Davis Cup victories were orchestrated by the youth brigade, spearheaded by leading singles player Somdev Devvarman and Bopanna too has played a crucial role in winning the doubles rubbers.
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, the old war horses who have an incredible 23-match winning streak in Davis Cup, have made themselves available for Davis Cup tie in September. Bhupathi has not been able to get into Davis Cup team since 2011 and Paes, who has been going through personal problems, had excused himself from national duty this year before throwing his hat for selection again.
"Well we are up against the number two team in the world, even though it is a home tie, it's going to be our toughest challenge so far in Davis Cup at home, so I think we need to put our best team out there with maximum experience and whoever is playing the best during that period of time," Bopanna told PTI in an e-mail interview.
The Serbian team boasts of world number two and multiple Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic, but their another formidable player Janko Tipsarevic is unlikely to play due to a recent heel surgery. It will be interesting to see if the All India Tennis Association's selection panel persists with the young team or calls back either Paes or soon-to-retire Bhupathi to pair with Bopanna.
On rankings, Bhupathi won't make it to the team as he's placed below Bopanna and Paes. It was on Somdev and Bopanna's suggestion that Bangalore was chosen as host city for the World Group play-off tie. Since Serbian players are quite strong on slow courts, the players preferred medium-fast courts at KSLTA. Asked if this is the only reason for the choice of venue, Bopanna said there were other factors as well.