Home Courts and Draw give hosts India advantage vs Denmark in Davis Cup

India will look to exploit the home conditions and favourable draw when the hosts take on a promising Danish side eager to surpass expectations in their Davis Cup World Group Playoff 1 tie at the historic Delhi Gymkhana Club (DGC) starting Friday.

The low and fast grass courts of the DGC, coupled with the Capital’s dry weather, will make the Rohit Rajpal-led side a firm favourite to edge past Denmark. But the visitors will be no push overs, as Denmark’s captain Frederik Nielsen suggested on the match’s eve.

“We are playing India on their day and they have better players. However, we can match any better player in the world. Though the hosts are strong favourites, it would mean nothing on the competition day to us. It’s going to be a competitive outing,” he remarked.

India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan will kickstart the proceedings when he faces Christian Sigsgaard in the opening singles on Day 1. In the second singles, 590th-ranked Yuki Bhambri will meet Mikael Torpegaard who is currently placed on 210th in the world rankings. On Saturday, doubles specialists Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will battle it out against Johannes Ingildsen and Nielsen. In the reverse singles later in the day, Ramanathan will play Torpegaard and Bhambri will take on Sigsgaard if the need be.

The draw for the Davis Cup were made on Thursday in the presence of Union Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, AITA President & Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Anil Jain and Administrator of Delhi Gymkhana Club, Mr. Om Pathak.

India’s non-playing captain Rajpal sounded optimistic about the hosts’ chances and said that it was a good draw.

“We are playing on grass and know the conditions better which gives us a slight edge. Ramkumar has been practising a lot here. He knows the track very well. Overall, it will be a good match for us. We have a better chance in the first match, so I’m looking forward to the matches,” he said.

Present on the occasion, Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj expected the hosts to come good against Denmark.

“Yuki and Ram are playing on grass court and Rohan’s experience makes it a good side. All these players are terrific and have the potential to be in Top-100,” he opined.

India have been allotted a home tie after three years and Delhi will host Davis Cup matches after more than five years. The last time Delhi had hosted Davis Cup matches was in September 2016 when Rafael Nadal-led Spain had whitewashed India 5-0 in the World Group Play-off round at the DLTA complex here. India have made it to the Davis Cup final thrice – 1966, 1974 and 1987 – but could never won the ‘World Cup of Tennis’ as the premier international team event is popularly described by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

The two-day rubber on the fast grass courts of the DGC will be the first tie between India and Denmark since September 1984 when the visitors had won 3-2 at Aarhus. The only other time both sides faced each other was in 1927 when Denmark had blanked India 5-0 in the quarterfinals in Copenhagen.

India’s squad for Davis Cup:

1. Prajnesh Gunneswaran

2. Yuki Bhambri

3. Rohan Bopanna

4. Ramkumar Ramanathan

5. Divij Sharan

Reserves: Saketh Myneni and Digvijay Pratap Singh

Denmark’s squad for Davis Cup:

1. Mikael Torpegaard (ranked 210)

2. Johannes Ingildsen (ranked 805)

3. Christian Sigsgaard (ranked 833)

4. Elmer Møller (ranked 1708)

5. Frederik Løchte Nielsen (captain)

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