India can't perform well in Davis Cup without top-50 players: Vijay Amritraj

New Delhi: Indian tennis great Vijay Amritraj is not giving much of chance to the Somdev Devvarman-led team in its Davis Cup World Group play-off against Czech Republic later this month and says "we can't do well in team events" unless we have top 50 singles players.

Amritraj says India have enough doubles players to choose from but lack of quality singles players is hurting their growth in Davis Cup. So much so that return of Leander Paes for the September 18-20 contest "doesn't make any difference".

"Well Leander has just one match. It doesn't make any difference. We have enough doubles players in the country. That is the not the issue. The issue is trying to find players in the top-100. That is what we need to be a good team. It is difficult for us to make the World group if we don't have good singles players. Not even in top-100, I would say we need top-50 guys because eventually we will be playing against them only to make the World Group," Amritraj told PTI on the sidelines on a conference on business of sports organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The former World No. 16 further explained his point. "It comes down to four singles in Davis Cup. It is very important to win one match on the opening day. For us to win without top-50 players is tough. Having said that, we have won many matches which we were not expected to win. So miracles happen," said the Chennai-born who is now based in the United States.

Yuki Bhambri is now India's highest-ranked player at 145, ahead of Somdev, who has slipped well out of the top-100 to settle at 152 this week. Asked on the slide of Devvarman, who reached a career high 62 four years ago, Amritraj said, "It is just about having those two good months and all of a sudden, you are ranked 80. There is no reason why Somdev, Yuki, Saketh (Myneni) and all these boys (in the team) can't be in the top-100. They are physically fine, physically strong."

Amritraj also spoke about the career path of doubles World No.1 Sania Mirza, who was last week conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, India's highest sporting honour.

"It is incredible what Sania has done (on her ranking). I can imagine the troubles she would have faced while growing up as a player. Having said that, I would have loved to have seen her play more singles and that is a pity," said the 61-year-old.

Amritraj, also a well-known expert of the game, could not have ended the conversation without a mention of the ongoing US Open and the long awaited prospect of Roger Federer winning a record 18th Grand Slam.

"Two years ago I said how could you write off Federer. Now I say how could you write off Rafael Nadal. Great champions come back all the time. These guys have got something unique. You can never write them off.

"But lets not forget all the tournaments between Wimbledon and US Open have been best of three sets. You have to play seven matches to win the title. Novak (Djokovic) has to be the front runner even though he lost to Federer the last time they met. Federer is looking good and a close second to Djokovic," he concluded.

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