India will have to contend with none other than 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal as Spain today named a full strength team for the upcoming Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie. Delhi is expected to host the matches.
Apart from world number five Nadal, who lost in the fourth round at the US Open, Spain has packed the side with world number 13 David Ferrer, world number 18 Feliciano Lopez and Mark Lopez (world number 19 in doubles). India's highest-ranked singles player Saketh Myneni is placed 143 in the ATP chart and Ramkumar Ramanathan is ranked 202.
India though have competitive doubles players in the squad in Rohan Bopanna (world number 17 in doubles) and Leander Paes (ranked 62).
"That is a fully loaded Spain team and it will be a battle for us. Hope it brings the best out of us," Myneni told PTI from New York, reacting to the squad announcement. While Spain are European powerhouse in the game, India have been consistently knocking the World Group doors.
With the current set of players, it is likely to keep doing that, reaching the Play-off stage via Asia/Oceania zone but to enter and then stay in World Group India need to find much better singles players.
India beat Korea 4-1 in the Asia/Oceania Group I tie to reach the Play-of stage while Spain beat Romania with identical margin in the Europe/Africa Group I contest.
The last time India and Spain competed against each other was in 1965 when Spain beat India 3-2 in a home tie. Spain lead the Head-to-Head record 2-1 with India managing to beat them, way back in 1927 in an away tie. The first tie between the two nations was on a neutral venue i.e in Great Britain, where Spain beat India in the World Group Quarterfinal 4-1.
Feature image source: AFP