India will wait for Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan to repeat their recent slayings of giants against a fully transformed Denis Shapovalov when they face Canada in their fourth consecutive attempt to qualify for the Davis Cup World Cup in Edmonton on Friday.
Shapovalov made the world take note of him with his surprising victory over Rafael Nadal at the Montreal Masters. He then became the youngest player to reach the fourth round of the US Open, only his second Grand Slam.
Shapovalov, 18, number 51, also scaled Juan Martín Del Potro and Jo Wilfred Tsonga in their astonishing rise in world tennis in recent months.
On the other hand, India has its hopes hung on the shoulders of Yuki and Ramkumar, who also created a splash knocking down Gael Monfils and the last hot property of tennis Dominic Thiem, recently.
Much was expected of the two young Indians since his arrival, but injuries to Yuki, 157, and lack of confidence in Ramkumar (154th place) have deteriorated his career.
Lately, both Yuki and Ramkumar have shown encouraging results and instilling hope that they are able to get a win over the left-handed Shapovalov.
Yuki has matured as a player and demonstrated mental toughness, a requirement to sustain the pressure of the Davis Cup.
In his recent victories, Yuki has also shown that he can control the game and get over his nerves when faced with crisis situations.
Ramkumar, with his great service and improved fitness also gives India confidence.
Facing Vasek Pospisil, the other singles player named by Canada, should not be a big problem for Yuki and Ramkumar.
He might be better than the Indians at number 82, but he is tied after five consecutive defeats in the ATP Tour, the last in the first round of the US Open.
Yuki played against him in 2014 when he lost to the Canadian in the quarterfinals of the Chennai Open, while Ramkumar has never played against him.
But it was Pospisil who won both singles when Canada hosted Great Britain in the first round of the World Group in February of this year.
Shapovalov had lost his two games, including the fifth decisive fifth in which he was defrauded for hitting the referee with a ball, struck by frustration.
If Yuki and Ramkumar can even get a point on the first day, they will make a big difference in how the draw will fit for India.
Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni, who recently recovered from a foot injury, form a formidable pair. On the other side of the net would be the experienced Daniel Nestor and Pospisil or Bradley Schnur, who has not yet played his Davis Cup debut.
Experts believe that in the absence of the world number 11 Milos Raonic in the opposition camp, it is India’s best chance to re-enter the World Group in recent years.
It is the fourth consecutive year that the Indian team is defeating the World Group door, having lost to Serbia (2014 in Bangalore), Czech Republic (2015 in New Delhi) and Spain (2016, New Delhi) in the Play-offs in the last three years.
The covered courts will also make a high-intensity draw with Indian captain Mahesh Bhupathi already admitting that the margin of error would be much lower.
India last played in the World Group in March 2011 when it was crushed 1-4 by the defending champion of Serbia.
If the players deliver and guide the country to the 16-nation elite of the World Group, it will be a memorable achievement for Bhupathi in only his second draw as captain after taking over from Anand Amritraj.happy wheels
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