Bangalore: Former India ace Vijay Amritraj today disagreed with country's top singles player Somdev Devvarman's take that India's Davis Cup chances against the mighty Serbia will hinge on doubles pair of Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna.
"Let me put it this way. You cannot win a Davis Cup tie solely depending on doubles. You would rather lose 1-4! But you can win a Davis Cup match with good singles performance.
There are four singles matches. The bottomline is you have to win three out of five rubbers. It doesn't matter how you do it," a forthright Vijay told PTI in an exclusive interview ahead of the marquee clash tomorrow.
"I think the key element will be winning one of the first two singles on the first day. We have to win one of those ... which I think we can," younger of the two Amritraj brothers, said ahead of the launching of his Reserve Wine Collection with Grover Zampa Vineyards here today.
On Yuki Bhambri playing the first singles, Amritraj said he would have ideally wanted Somdev play the first match and beating the Serbia's No 2 player. "I would have loved to see Som playing the first match and we go up 1-0. That would have been be the ideal script I would have liked to write."
Yuki will open India's Davis Cup campaign against Serbia, drawn against visiting side's No 2 player Dusan Lajovic for the first singles match. Asked whether he agrees to Devvarman's comments that India's chances hinged on gaining a point in the doubles, Vijay said it cannot win any team the tie because there are four singles matches compared to only one doubles.
Amritraj said Djokovic's participation would have been a big question mark for India in the two singles he would have played, but with his absence it is 50-50 chance for the hosts in the tie. "Djokovic's absence definitely increases our chances of winning. With him playing - where two singles would have been a question mark for us. They (Indians) are now in a position of 50 per cent chance of winning," he said.
Amritraj said he believed that the two Indian youngsters can beat their opponents because they are playing top 100 ranked players, not top 20s. "Right now, Somdev's ranking has dropped a bit but he is a top-100 player in essence. those guys are also top 100. But also, they are not top 10 or top 20. We are talking about Somdev and Bhambri, can have good victory against - I think we have a very good chance," he said.
Amritraj further said ranking has little bearing during Davis Cup matches. However, there is a bad news for Indian fans who would be miss Djokovic in action here. "The bad news is that Indian tennis fan is deprived of seeing Djokovic on our home soil," he added.
On Paes' return to Davis Cup and thereof India's chances, Vijay said he and Rohan Bopanna should have an edge over the Serbians in the doubles match. "With Lee's experience and Bopanna's firepower, I think they should have an edge in the doubles match."
Asked how big altitude and weather condition play in this tie, Vijay said it will not make huge difference for both teams though it would easy for Indian players to get acclamatised to it. "In my opinion, altitude will be the same for both. I am not quite sure it will make such a huge difference, though acclamatising to altitude for our guys will be easy than those (Serbians) guys," he added.
Having said that, Vijay said breaking the Sebian players would be a difficult proposition as they are big serving lads. "Yuki has played well against Indonesia here last year.
Som also has played well here because of the serves - can bounce up high but don't forget that these guys also serve very well. They are big boys, serve very well so breaking them is going to be tough," he said.
Asked whether the Serbians were giving an impression to media as a strategy that they are bothered with the playing conditions here, Vijay said, "It is always good to make them think a little bit. Whenever foreigners come, they think about all the negative aspect. For them, to think about altitude itself is a bit of negative thinking."
Asked about his elder brother Anand's contribution as the non-playing Captain, Amritraj said he has brought the team together as one good unit which is important to beat better sides and remain the world group. "Anand has brought the team together as a unit.
If you don't have players in top 20 or 25, you need to be a very strong unit to be able to take advantage of the relationship and beat teams better than you otherwise you are not going to make the world group.
"So, I think Anand brings that to the table and he is the best person for the job at this particular time," Amritraj was
effusive in his praise for his elder sibling. Amritraj said Anand's selection was long overdue and thought he would make an ideal captain for India.
"More than anything else his relationship with the players is excellent," he added.