No Leander Paes, no problem, says Mahesh Bhupathi

Updated: Jan 31, 2019, 11:32 IST | Kashinath Bhattacharjee | Kolkata

But the non-playing captain of India had no doubt that there would be no excuses for his team if they lose the tie

India's non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi with coach Zeeshan Ali and Ramkumar Ramanathan (centre) ahead of their Davis Cup tie v Italy, in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/PTI
India's non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi with coach Zeeshan Ali and Ramkumar Ramanathan (centre) ahead of their Davis Cup tie v Italy, in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/PTI

Leander Paes is not in the squad. Will it be a disadvantage for India on grass in a Davis Cup tie played in Paes's hometown? "No," the one-word reply from Mahesh Bhupathi reminded one of his trademark double-fisted backhand cross court return! South Club will be hosting a Davis Cup tie after 16 years and a win would take India to the final phase of the Davis Cup, fondly called as the World Cup of Tennis, in Madrid come November.

Mahesh Bhupathi
Mahesh Bhupathi

But the non-playing captain of India had no doubt that there would be no excuses for his team if they lose the tie. "We wanted to play on grass and we were granted the opportunity. We are playing Italy and the tie is played on grass, not on clay, which is not best suited to them. So, no excuses for us," said Bhupathi.

Mahesh Bhupathi: India will not be intimidated by Italy in Davis Cup

Rather, the smaller format is an advantage for his team, he believed. "A change in format is great for lowly ranked teams like us. It's always a better to try and beat players ranked higher in two sets out of three rather than in three sets out of five," he said.

Although his counterpart, the non-playing captain of Italy, Corrado Barazzutti opined that India would not be underdogs in the tie, Bhupathi had other views. "In sports, a match is played between two teams and the favourites are determined by the rankings and statistics. One team has to be favourite while the other is an underdog. And here, we are going in as underdogs."

The doubles will be more of a concern, he felt. "I think I lost one of my last matches against Bolelli and Seppi in Dubai. They are more experienced and Bolelli has won Grand Slams."

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