Ramkumar Ramanathan will face Andreas Seppi in the first singles of the two-day Davis Cup qualifiers first round clash between India and Italy at the South Club in Kolkata starting Friday. The second singles on Friday will pit India No. 1 Prajnesh Gunneswaran against hard-hitting Matteo Berrettini.
In the doubles rubber on Saturday, India will be spearheaded by Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan against the Italian combination of Marco Cecchinato and Simone Bolleli on the grass courts.
The reverse singles will follow the doubles rubber on Saturday. India will be playing the tie in its shortest format for the first time. Matches will be played over best-of-three sets in place of gruelling best of five.
It will be a tough task for the Indians in singles despite Italy's best-ranked singles player in the world at No. 19 - Cecchinato, not in the fray for at least the Friday rubber.
Seppi (37) and Berrettini (53) are still the top-100 players that Prajnesh (102) and Ramkumar (133) will have to get past if India are to stand any chance of taking one of the 12 qualifying spots for the new-look Davis Cup finals.
This will be the sixth tie between the two nations but first in 21 years, with the Italians dominating the head-to-head with a 4-1 margin. The Italians won the ties in 1928, 1952, 1958 and 1998. India's lone win came on the grass of Calcutta in 1985.
Can Kolkata once again prove to be a lucky venue for the Indian team?