Dubai: Indian Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali is confident his squad of players can confidently look ahead to their next challenge against Finland later this summer.
Ranked No.22, India is due to travel for their tie against Finland for their first-ever meeting in the World Group 1 from September 18-20. India fell 1-3 to Croatia at the Dom Sportova in Zagreb in their qualifiers contest on March 6-7 before the world closed down to the current coronavirus pandemic.
The experienced pairing of Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes had given India some hope after winning their doubles in three sets against Mate Pavic and Franko Skugor, but former US champion Marin Cilic banished young Sumit Nagal, forcing India to head back into the World Group 1.
“So far we don’t have any clarity regarding our next tie against Finland. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get into a state of readiness for the challenges ahead,” Zeeshan Ali told Gulf News.
There is no doubt that the AITA has been working on drastically improving the local Indian circuit during these times - so that it will benefit our players in terms of tournaments and revenue
“We have a Davis Cup players’ group in which we are in constant touch no matter which part of the world they are in. Apart from the group, I’m in touch with the players individually on a regular basis so that we can all try to be at the same level once practice does get under way,” he added.
“Our next Davis Cup tie has been fixed for September against Finland and our main aim will be to get back into the World Group play-offs. But at this moment, there is no clarity about the tie. We will just need to wait and see how things work out,” the former Davis Cupper insisted.
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has been focusing on younger talent with the intention of looking towards the future following the imminent retirement of veterans such as Leander Paes – who turns 47 in June – and Rohan Bopanna.
Currently at world No. 132, Prajnesh Gunneswaran is 31, while Ramkumar Ramanathan (26) and Sumit Nagal (23) have been adapting themselves well into the squad.
One of the major avenues of concern is the lack of revenue and the AITA has been working closely with associates and sponsors to ensure there’s minimum impact on the players. “They [the players] all have their concerns. Revenue is what is most concerning,” Zeeshan Ali noted.
“Apart from that, it’s the loss of time, especially for some of our players, who are already in their 30s or early 40s,” he added.
“There is no doubt that the AITA has been working on drastically improving the local Indian circuit during these times - so that it will benefit our players in terms of tournaments and revenue. This initiative is being carried out across the board, be it for the men’s or women as also the juniors,” Zeeshan Ali noted.
“A lot needs to be done, but we’ve got to be realistic as all of this will only be possible once it’s possible to get back on court,” he added.