India needs minor miracle against Czech in Davis Cup: Bhupathi

 

New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) Tennis great Mahesh Bhupathi on Saturday said that India need a “minor miracle” to pull off a victory against the Czech Republic in the upcoming Davis Cup World Group Play-off.

India will host the European team here from September 18 to 20. A victory will see them advance to the elite World Group.

“Unfortunately, I got a message from Tomas Berdych yesterday asking me for the hotel details because he has to book. So they are all coming in with a full strength team. It is going to be hard. World Group Play-off is always hard and Czech Republic have won it two out of the last three years,” said the 12-time Grand Slam champion here.

“But never say never in Davis Cup. We will put up a fight I am sure. We are playing Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek so our guys will need to be able to pull off a minor miracle.”

The Czech are seeded No.1 in the Play-offs. They have won the Davis Cup thrice, that too as recently as 2012 and 2013 and once as Czechoslovakia in 1980. India, on the other hand, have reached the final thrice — 1966, 1974 and 1987. The Czechs have never lost to India in three meetings, although their last tie was back in 1997.

The 41-year-old said that he is not sure of playing professionally this year as he will be concentrating on the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), which he founded in 2014 and which is due to be held this year from December 2 to 20.

“I will not be playing for the next four-five months. The IPTL… we are just going to focus on delivering what we need to,” said Bhupathi. What about next year? “Your guess is as good as mine,” answered the Chennai-born.

Asked about teenager Sumit Nagal, who became headline news recently by clinching the boys’ doubles title at Wimbledon, Bhupathi said: “For Sumit, it is a lot of confidence winning the junior doubles that too at Wimbledon but let us not get ahead of ourselves.

“The transition from the junior game to the men’s game is about 200 steps and he has got to make those steps one by one. The next three-fours years are going to be defining for him. We will try and give him as much support as possible. But there is a lot of work to be done.”

Bhupathi had a big role to play in Nagal’s grooming as he mentored the Delhi boy in his younger days.

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