New Delhi: Ramkumar Ramanathan will start the proceedings for India when he takes on 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the opening singles on day one of the David Cup World Group Play-off against Spain, starting here on Friday.
The second singles of the tie will be between Saketh Myneni and world number 13 David Ferrer, according to the draw announced by the International Tennis Federation on Thursday. On the second day, experienced Leander Paes will pair up with Saketh to face French Open champions Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez. In the reverse singles, it will be Saketh’s turn to clash with Nadal, while Ramanathan will lock horns with Ferrer.
“It’s going to be tough for everybody. It’s an important confrontation with both teams wanting to go to the World Group. May be we have better names and on ranking we’re higher but India team knows the conditions well so the home advantage will be with them, so it will be a tough one,” said Nadal, adding, he has no preference and is happy to play on day one.
“We are used to playing in different conditions but here the humidity is higher than even during the seasons. So we need to be fit and with best of five sets in this conditions, it will be hard. We need to adapt to the conditions and be prepared for the start.”
Asked how important is this tournament, considering he is coming back from injury, Nadal said: “Injuries are always tough. It’s difficult to comeback but I think I did well. I had a good Olympics and then I competed well at the US Open. Here we are excited about the tie, we are motivated to reach the World Group and that remains the only goal.”
“I’m really excited to play one of the best players of all time. We have to keep the first few games close and play some aggressive tennis. I need to play with a lot of forehand and attack his forehand, play as deep as possible and ofcourse serve well. I am ready to play my heart out,” Ramanathan said.
India had beaten Korea 4-1 in their Asia/Oceania Group I second round tie while Spain defeated Romania with the same margin in their Europe/Africa zonal tie. India and Spain have locked horns thrice so far in Davis Cup with the European nation leading the head-to-head record 2-1. The last time India played Spain was as far back as 1965 when they lost the away tie 2-3.
“We are the underdogs and we have to find a way to do well, put everything on line and bled blue on the court. If we can finish 1-1 after day 1, we will have a good chance. So everything depends on first day,” Saketh said.
Paes added: “I am really looking forward to the weekend, playing with the young boys and rewrite some history for India.