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Thursday, September 18, 2008


India raring to go against Romania


BUCHAREST: India are raring to go for their weekend Davis Cup World Group play-off tie starting today after having defeated Uzbekistan and Japan to qualify.

Not since 2005 have the Indians - overall runners-up in 1966, 1974 and 1987 - reached the playoffs while they last contested the World Group in 1998.

Prakash Armitraj - 7-9 in Davis Cup career singles play - will go up against Victor Crivoi and Somdev Devvarman will face Gstaad tournament winner Victor Hanescu in the opening singles before experienced duo Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi take on Adrian Cruciat and Horia Tecau in tomorrow's doubles.

Rohan Bopanna partnered Bhupathi for what proved a crucial doubles success in the 3-2 win over over Uzbekistan - the same margin as over Japan - but Paes' experience will see him return to the fray.

In Sunday's return singles Amritraj, India's 222nd-ranked and son of former star Vijay Amritraj, will tackle Hanescu before 242nd-ranked Devvarman plays Crivoi.

Indian skipper Shiv Prakash Misra is confident his men have the tools to pull off a win. "The players have enough experience and I hope that will make the difference. You play better when you are representing your country and that's why I don't think we will have problems."

Special

Bhupathi concurs that playing for the nation is a special feeling.

"When you play for your country everything is different. I played (alongside Mark Knowles) against Tecau (who partnered Swiss Yves Allegro) at the US Open," he noted, a second-round match in which Bhupathi finished on the winning side.

Devvarman has acclimatised to Romania having made it through the qualifications at the ATP event in Bucharest before losing last week to Spain's Nicolas Almagro in the first round proper.

Three-times finalists Romania and India have met three times in the Davis Cup. India managed a 5-0 whitewash in 1922, but the Romanians then had the upper hand with a 4-0 win in 1969 on Romanian clay and then scored a 4-1 success in 1971 in New Delhi with Ilie Nastase and Ion Tiriac proving too strong for their rivals.

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