India face South Korea, aim to seal World Group play-off slot in Davis Cup

India are without an injured Yuki Bhambri but the team would hope that the likes of Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna can more than make up for his absence against South Korea.

Updated: April 03, 2014 12:45 IST
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Their second best singles player is missing from the line-up but an upbeat India would fancy their chances against South Korea when the two teams clash here for a Davis Cup World Group play-off berth from Friday.

India are without Yuki Bhambri, who was forced out of the tie due to a foot injury but the team has enough fire power to handle the home challenge.

India would hope that Somdev Devvarman shrugs off his indifferent form and gives the country its first point when he opens the campaign against Chung Hyeon, ranked 377.

Ranked 88th, Somdev is the highest-ranked singles player in the tie but he is struggling since winning the Delhi Open in February.

He has lost four of the five matches played and the shock win over injured world number five Juan Martin Del Potro is the only result he has savoured in the last two months.

However, Davis Cup has always been a tournament where Somdev has excelled and the nation vs nation event has always got the best out of him.

Indeed, it was after the last tie against Taipei in Indore, that he went on a brilliant spree in the back-to-back Challengers that culminated with the Delhi Open title.

Somdev's victory is important in the context that India are without Yuki and in his place captain Anand Amritraj has fielded Sanam Singh (371) ahead of higher-ranked Saketh Myneni (256) for the second singles.

Myneni made an impressive debut against Taipei, winning the singles and doubles matches but the captain has gone for experience.

Sanam will clash with Korea's number one player Lim Yong-Kyu, ranked 300th, in the second singles tomorrow.

The diminutive Sanam is coming into the tie after making the finals of two consecutive ITF Futures tournaments in India.

In the doubles, the experienced Rohan Bopanna will yet again combine with Myneni to take on the home combination of Lee Hyung-Taik and Sang-Woo Noh. The big-serving Indian pair will be outright favourite to win the third rubber.

On Sunday, the reverse singles will be played.

India have never beaten Korea in an away tie and also trail 3-6 in the head-to-head record. But India are expected to improve on that count as they have a better line-up than the hosts.

The last time the two teams played was in 2013 when the Koreans beat India 4-1 in New Delhi in the absence of top players, who boycotted the tie.

India are coming into this tie after having blanked Taipei 5-0 while the hosts had got a bye in the first round as one of the top seeds and are seeking a World Group play-off berth for the first time since 2008.

Match Schedule:

Day 1: Somdev Devvarman vs Chung Hyeon at 07:30hrs IST followed by Sanam Singh vs Lim Yong-Kyu
Day 2: Rohan Bopanna/Saketh Myneni vs Lee Hyung-Taik/ Sang-Woo Noh at 09:30 hrs
Day 3: Somdev Devvarman vs Lim Yong-Kyu at 07:30hrs IST followed by Sanam Singh vs Chung Hyeon.

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