Davis Cup: Mukund to start India’s World Group II playoff challenge against Morocco

IANS Photo

IANS Photo

Lucknow, September 15 (IANS): Sasikumar Mukund will kickstart India’s challenge in the Davis Cup World Group II tie against Morocco when he takes on World No. 557 Yassine Dlimi in the opener at the Vijayant Khand Mini Stadium in Gomti Nagar, here on Saturday.

Mukund is ranked No. 365 as compared to his Moroccan opponent whereas Sumit Nagal, India's highest-ranked singles player at No. 156, will face Adam Moundir, ranked 779, in the second singles on Day One.

Rohan Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri will team up for the men's doubles on Sunday. Digvijay Pratap Singh is the other member of the squad while Rohit Rajpal is the non-playing captain.

The draw ceremony for the tie starting on Saturday was conducted by the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at his official residence here on Friday. He also wished the players luck in the tie.

"It will be a memorable moment for Uttar Pradesh when the capital city Lucknow will host an international tournament, Davis Cup. It is a prestigious international tennis tournament. In the last nine years, India has witnessed a sporting revolution. Prime Minister Modi ji has encouraged Khelo India and Fit India to bolster India's progress in sports.

"Uttar Pradesh is hosting Davis Cup after 23 years, I thank the All India Tennis Association for selecting Uttar Pradesh," said Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The draw ceremony was also attended by All India Tennis Association (AITA) President Anil Jain, Secretary General Anil Dhupar, other officials, captains and players from both teams.

On Sunday, Bopanna will team up with Bhambri to take on Morocco’s doubles pair of Elliot Benchetrit and Younes Lalami Laaroussi whereas Nagal and Mukund will play Dlimi and Moundir respectively in the reverse singles on the final day.

There is a lot of excitement around the rubber as Bopanna, who recently finished runner-up at the US Open men’s doubles final, will be playing his final Davis Cup match.

“The draw seems fine. Normally, every captain prefers his No. 1 player to come on the court first to give the country an advantage. My first preference was for Sumit to play first. It’s going to be challenging in terms of the weather," India’s non-playing captain Rajpal, who is also the Executive Committee Member of the Indian Olympic Association, said.

"The idea is to keep the players hydrated and feed them with a lot of electrolytes. No team is easy, no player is easy in today’s time. Both our players need to rise to the occasion and deliver for the country,” he said.

AITA Secretary General Dhupar felt the Davis Cup would be great for youngsters from the state. “Uttar Pradesh is going to witness a different world of tennis after the Davis Cup. They have built new courts, new infrastructure and this will help all the youngsters and aspiring tennis players to participate in good tournaments,” he said.

The matches will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, while the second and final day's action on Sunday will start at 1 p.m.

“I think it’s a good draw and we’ll see some great matches. We are looking forward to competing tomorrow. We came a week earlier so we are getting used to the heat and humidity. We are happy with the start time,” said Morocco captain Mehdi Tahiri.

Matches will be broadcast live on Doordarshan Sports and Sony Sports Network.