Prajnesh Gunneswaran will open India’s Davis Cup World Group I tie campaign against Norway’s number one and US Open number two Casper Ruud, while Ramkumar Ramanathan will take on lower-ranked Viktor Durasovic in singles at the first day in Lillehammer, Norway, on Friday. The Indian team under non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal has moved through the rankings in choosing the singles players. Yuki Bhambri, who has long been the top singles player in the country, although he has fallen in the rankings, will play doubles alongside Saketh Myneni on Saturday. Prajnesh, who is ranked 335th in the world, faces a tough job against world No. 2 Ruud, who was in sweltering form after finishing second to Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open.
But India’s number one player Ramkumar, who is ranked 276th in the world, can imagine his chances against Durasovic, the 325, in the second singles.
“Our number one Ramkumar will play against their number two player. Our number two singles player I have chosen is Prajnesh and he will play against their number one player,” said Rajpal.
“So it’s Ramkumar vs Jorasevic and Prajnesh against Casper Ruud on the first day. Based on that, we will react in the doubles on the second day.” It is India’s first time to face Norway in the Davis Cup. Although Norway has the world number 2 Ruud on their side, their other players are lower than the Indians and that would give hope to the visitors.
In this scenario, Saturday’s doubles match could be crucial if India can achieve two singles wins. In this context, the last minute withdrawal of veteran Rohan Bopanna due to injury was a major blow to the Indian team.
In the reverse singles, also on Saturday, Ramkumar takes on Ruud while Prajnesh takes on Durasovic.
Every match becomes a best-of-three set affair. The matches will be played on an indoor hard court at Hakons Hall in Lillehammer.
India had beaten Denmark 4-0 in the Davis Cup World Group I play-offs in New Delhi earlier this year.
Rajpal also paid tribute to Indian tennis legend Naresh Kumar, who passed away on Wednesday.
“Very well said to hear the news when we are here in the Davis Cup. I played under him when he was the Davis Cup captain. Zeeshan Ali was also on the team. He was an extremely dynamic person.” Squads: India: Rohit Rajpal (captain not playing), Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sumit Nagal, Yuki Bhambri, Saketh Myneni, Mukund Sasikumar.
Norway: Anders Haseth (captain not playing), Casper Ruud, Viktor Durasovic, Lukas Hellum Lilleengen, Herman Hoeyeraal, Simen Sunde Bratholm.
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