Davis Cup: We can't take New Zealand lightly, says Somdev Devvarman
Christchurch: More than the opponents it's the challenging cold conditions that will test Indian players when they take on New Zealand in the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group I tie here.
India's Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna during their Davis Cup World Group tie vs Serbia in 2011
The winner will advance to September's World Group play-offs. India start as favourites against the Kiwis. The temperature is hovering around 5 to 7 degrees and Indian players are not used to such extreme weather even though the matches will be played indoors at the Wilding Park Tennis Centre.
On paper, India outweigh the Kiwis as singles players Somdev Devvarman (148) and Yuki Bhambri (151) are ranked much higher. Wimbledon semi-finalist Rohan Bopanna provides added class. He is World No 10 in doubles and pairs up with Saketh Myneni.
NZ's top-ranked player here is No 345 Jose Statham. Michael Venus, who usually plays doubles, will do singles duty. His singles rank of 548. Artem Sitak (43) and Marcus Daniell (66) are well placed in the ATP doubles chart.
India whitewashed NZ 5-0 when they met last time in Chandigarh. But Somdev, who is coming into the tie after a morale-boosting Challenger title win in the USA, said they cannot take the hosts lightly.
"The conditions are tougher for us. We're not used to playing in such conditions. We are not taking these players lightly. They've played good tennis to reach this position. They beat a much stronger Chinese team early this year," said Somdev, who will open India's campaign against Venus while Yuki plays Statham in the second singles.