Davis Cup: Bhupathi makes himself available for World Group play-off tie

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 10, 2014 16:23 hrs

Mumbai: Tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi on Wednesday declared his availability for India's Davis Cup World Group play-off match at home against Serbia later in the year, saying that the doubles rubber could be crucial against a strong opposition.

"I am always available. I know the captain's (Anand Amritraj) talk about the same just like coach (Zeeshan Ali) has brought it up. I think it is important because the doubles will be pivotal in that match, so let's see how things pan out," Bhupathi said here on the sidelines of a promotional event organised by a leading tennis racquet manufacturer.

The 39-year-old winner of four men's doubles Grand Slam crowns held out some hope for India against the strong Serbians as the tie would be played at home.

"Any opponent is difficult in Davis Cup. Once teams come to India anything is possible, so we are looking (forward) to play a home tie," he said.

"I hope he doesn't play," said Bhupathi with a laugh when pointed out the possibility of World No.2 Novak Djokovic coming to India for the tie.

Bhupathi also hailed the victory of Somdev Devvarman-spearheaded India over South Korea in the away tie that gained them a berth in the Davis Cup World Group play-off.

"It is very exciting. We have not beaten Korea in Korea before. I have been part of many teams that have been to Korea and have come disappointed because it is so hard to beat those guys there," Bhupathi said.

"I think Somdev and the boys did amazingly well and this a chance to play in the World Group," said Bhupathi, who has launched the IPL-style International Premier Tennis League which has signed up world number one and two Rafael Nadal of Spain and Serbia's Novak Djokovic, among other top players. Yesterday, Leander Paes had hailed the last week's feat of the Indian squad, saying "kudos to the boys for a job well done in Korea."
On India's chances against Serbia, Bhupathi said it was still a long way off and things were not clear about who all would be available for the tie.

"It is so far away, it's in September. We don't know who is playing for them and who is playing for us. Unfortunately, Yuki (Bhambri, India's 2nd singles player) was injured during the last tie (and missed playing against Korea). "Ideally we need to field a full strength team to have a chance to upset one of the powerhouses of tennis. Ideally for us if Novak doesn't show up I think life could become easier."

On India's prospects in the September-October Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, Bhupathi said the country had traditionally done well in these Games and he expected a good showing in the 17th edition of the quadrennial multi-sport event.

"We have always been a powerhouse when it comes to the Asian Games. I know when I played in Doha (2006) we won all the medals and also in Guangzhou (in 2010), we won all the medals (in tennis).

"When we go there we are always considered favourites to win a bunch of medals, so I am sure this time also, no matter what kind of team we field, we are always there in contention."

Bhupathi, however, declined to take any question about his proposed pro international tennis league which has also signed up Australian Open men's winner Stanislaus Wawarinka and reigning Wimbledon men's champion Andy Murray along with top women players Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka.

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