Edmonton: In a favourable draw, Ramkumar Ramanathan, ranked 154, will open India’s campaign at the Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie against debutant Bradley Schnur while Yuki Bhambri will play crucial second singles against world number 51 Denis Shapovalov, who will Canada’s hopes.
Ramkumar as India’s number one player will play the first singles and could not have asked for an easier outing. The Canadian team did not field Vasek Pospisil, world number 82, for the singles, probably since he is going through a rough patch of late. The 22-year-old Schnur is ranked 202.
India captain Mahesh Bhupathi has sprung a surprise by teaming up Rohan Bopanna with Purav Raja instead of Saketh Myneni for the doubles rubber, to be played on Saturday. Raja was brought into the team last minute as a reserve player when N Sri Ram Balaji, one of the two reserves named initially in the squad, twisted his ankle during the training camp in New York.
On the final day, Yuki will take on Schnur and Ramkumar will lock horns with Shapovalov in the reverse singles. The Indian team is making its fourth straight attempt to make it to the elite 16-nation World Group, having lost to Serbia (2014), Czech Republic (2015) and Spain (2016) in the Playoffs in the last three years.