Misc Tennis

Ranking and Bopanna give India the advantage over Morocco

Storm Sanders was Australia’s hero after she won the first singles rubber before returning for the deciding doubles match alongside 38-year-old Samantha Stosur.

All set for milestone: Bopanna will be playing his 50th and last Cup match.
| Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Ever since Davis Cup moved away from its regional format to become one global tournament, India has struggled.

From 2014 to 2020, India beat its Asia-Oceania opponents and qualified for seven straight World Group playoffs. In the three years since the regional silos were dismantled to club everyone into one consolidated world-level pot, India has lost three of its four ties to slip down to World Group II.

On Saturday, when it takes on Morocco at the Vijayant Khand Mini Stadium here, India will hope to fall no further. Another defeat will leave its very survival in Group II at stake, a near-hell scenario for the country that has reached the Davis Cup final thrice.


On paper, however, India looks the better side. Present-day Morocco is far from the country that once produced Hicham Arazi and Younes El Ayanaoui, both top-25 singles players and multiple-time Major quarterfinalists. 

At the draw ceremony on Friday, it was revealed that Sasikumar Mukund would open proceedings against Yassine Dlimi, followed by Sumit Nagal against Adam Moundir. Mukund is ranked 365 to Dlimi’s 557 and Nagal 156 to Moundir’s 779.

The fact that Morocco’s leading singles player, Elliot Benchetrit at No. 465, is not match-fit to play opening-day singles has set the visitors back further. Mukund may have lost five straight singles matches leading into Lucknow, but the chance to put India on the victorious path on his Cup debut should inspire him.

Nagal is fresh off a ATP Challenger final in Austria to go with two titles earlier in the year.

Trump card

The presence of Rohan Bopanna in doubles gives India a cutting edge. The World No.7, who reached the US Open final last weekend, will be playing his 50th and last Cup match, and is expected to win the point alongside Yuki Bhambri.

In February, the duo lost its rubber to Denmark in straight sets. But Yuki is a much more credentialed doubles player now, having won his maiden ATP 250 trophy with Lloyd Harris in Mallorca in the summer.

But Davis Cup, as the popular adage goes, respects neither the rankings nor pedigree. One need to look no further than this week when Canada, with two players ranked outside the top-150, beat the fancied Italy in the Cup Finals Group Stage.

Effect of the elements

Weather can be another of the equalisers between India and Morocco. The searing heat and humidity in the Uttar Pradesh capital…

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