New Delhi: World number 48 Jiri Vesley will lead Czech Republic in the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie against India as the top seeds today named a four-member team, which does not have Tomas Berdych.
World number six Berdych was expected to travel to India but the tall Czech, who lost his US Open fourth round to Richard Gasquet last night, was not named. However, seasoned Radek Stepanek, who won 2013 US Open and 2012 Australian Open with Leander Paes, was named in the team which also has world No. 87 Lukas Rosol and Adam Pavlasek, who is ranked 149 in singles.
Jaroslav Navratil will be the non-playing captain of the three-time champion side. 22-year-old Vesely has won just one live Davis Cup rubber for his country, a doubles tie against Australia earlier this year. India have Somdev Devvarman (152), Yuki Bhambri (145), Leander Paes (29 in doubles) and Rohan Bopanna (10 in doubles) in the squad.
Somdev, who has not lost a match at the DLTA courts since 2010 Commonwealth Games, said the job still remains tough for them. "Czech team is still very strong despite Berdych pulling out. Vesley and Rosol are world class singles players and Stepanek has won a few doubles Grand Slams with Lee (Leander Paes). It will be extremely tough for me and Yuki to pull off some matches out there," Somdev told PTI from Shanghai.
"But definitely Berdych pulling out gives us a better chance, no questions. But either way we have our work cut out for sure," he added. India's Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali says Berdych's absence gives India a good opportunity to make it to the elite 16-nation World Group.
"It's still going to be tough because Vesley and Rosol are top-100 players. They are much tougher than Serbian players but it certainly is a good news that Berdych is not coming and Indian players should capitalise on it," Zeeshan told PTI from Bangalore.
"Novak Djokovic's absence gave us a chance against Serbia and now that Berdych is not playing India certainly have a chance," Zeeshan Ali added.