‘Next few years are going to be tough’

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India’s tame 1-3 defeat to Finland in a Davis Cup World Group-I tie final weekend has raised contemporary questions on commonplace of the game within the nation. There is presently no Indian males’s singles participant ranked within the top-150, and this yr, Sumit Nagal’s first spherical look within the Australian Open — courtesy a wild card — was the lone Major principal draw singles match that includes an Indian. Zeeshan Ali, Davis Cup coach, in an interview, stated the following few years will probably be a interval of painful rebuilding. Excerpts:

What had been the explanations for the defeat?

Both towards Croatia’s Borna Gojo (rank 277) within the World Group qualifier final yr and Finland’s Otto Virtanen (rank 419), we had been hoping that Prajnesh [Gunneswaran] would win. He was ranked round 150. In Davis Cup, rankings don’t at all times matter however the participant has to play as per his rating. Yes, Virtanen performed like a top-100 participant, however it can’t at all times be the case that solely your opponent rises to the event.

It has been six years since an Indian beat a higher-ranked participant within the Davis Cup [164-Somdev Devvarman against 40-Jiri Vesely in 2015]. You have to succeed in past what you’re able to and the most important instance is Leander Paes. Ramkumar’s matches towards [Marin] Cilic and [Emil] Ruusuvuori had been shut, however it by no means felt like he was ready to win. The distinction in school and the extent of tennis confirmed.

Doubles specialists are additionally ageing. Is the cabinet empty?

No doubt the following few years are going to be powerful. We have simply two or three gamers to depend on. Sumit, Ramkumar and Yuki [Bhambri], if match. We have to persistently play top-100 stage tennis. Our gamers ought to compete in greater occasions persistently, not simply Challengers, in order that they know what to do towards top-notch opponents like Cilic. We want to begin constructing a youthful crew, with 17 and 18-year-olds, and make investments money and time in these with starvation.

Do you see any constructive indicators?

It’s a bit of hazy. Sumit must play, and Sasi Kumar [Mukund] additionally. It was a bit disappointing to see them skipping Davis Cup to play Challengers. In our days, Davis Cup meant a lot. You are usually not simply doing it for your self, however for the nation. That feeling and emotional join appear to be missing now [in the younger generation]. Sumit, Ramkumar… these are the fellows who can nonetheless ship. And we’d like the youthful guys to step up in doubles.

How a lot is India’s tennis ecosystem guilty?

The top-200 gamers must be enjoying greater occasions. As far as I do know, ATP 250 in Pune shouldn’t be taking place in 2022. So, the following huge match will probably be finish of 2022 or early 2023. Where does that go away our gamers? One occasion of that calibre shouldn’t be sufficient. We have to have 4 or 5.

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