Prajnesh Gunneswaran will open India’s challenge against the 419th-ranked Otto Virtanen in the Davis Cup tie against Finland, on the indoor hard courts of the Espoo Metro Arena, on Friday.
“We are happy that our No.1 player, Prajnesh will play the first match. If he plays to potential, we should have a 1-0 lead, which can put their No.1 player under pressure. We are happy with the draw,” said the Indian team captain Rohit Rajpal.
There had been some injury worries about the 31-year-old Prajnesh, ranked 165th in the world, but coach Zeeshan Ali reiterated that Prajnesh was striking the ball well and in good shape.
In good shape
“Prajnesh has been hitting the ball well. There was some worry about his worry about his wrist two weeks ago when I spoke to him. After that he went to Chennai and did a rehab. He is moving and playing well,” observed Zeeshan.
Ramkumar Ramanathan will take on the Finnish No.1, the 74th ranked Emil Ruusuvuori, in the second rubber on the opening day.
Even though the 22-year-old Ruusuvuori has been playing in the big league, and has a win over Dominic Thiem in Davis Cup, it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure in front of the home fans, albeit limited in number.
Capable of a surprise
In his last tie in March last year, Ramkumar had played a solid match against Marin Cilic before losing in two tie-breaks.
The 26-year-old, ranked 187, has been playing well on the circuit, and it is not beyond him to cause a surprise.
In the pivotal doubles, Asian Games champions Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will take on Henri Kontinen, the former World No.1 doubles player, and Harri Heliovaara, in the first of three matches on the second day.
The top eight-ranked winners of the 12 World Group-1 ties, based on the ranking to be released on September 20, will make the Qualifiers draw for next year. The other four winners will play a knock-out in November to decide two more teams for the Qualifiers. The losing nations will play the World Group play-off next year.
For the record, India is ranked No. 6 among the 24 teams for the World Group-1 tie.