Davis Cup: India vs Finland, Day 1 — Prajnesh and Ramkumar in action - Preview, where to watch, schedule, live stream
India has a tricky challenge on their hands as Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan get ready to steer the Davis Cup tie against Finland.
The stage has been set for the Indian men's tennis team to peg their chances against Finland in the first round tie of the World Group Qualifiers at the Davis Cup 2021. With a motley mix of seasoned players on either side, the tie is even and tricky as the matches can bend either way and a lot will come down to how the players will adapt and shape their game on the low-bounce hard court turf of the Espoo Metro Areena, in Finland.
It is crucial for India to win this tie as only a victory against Finland will guarantee the Indian side a place in the Qualifiers for the 2022 Davis Cup edition. A loss, on the other hand, will be ominous as it would mean being relegated to the play-offs zone of Group I.
Playing order for the @DavisCup tie 🇫🇮🇮🇳— Suomen Tennisliitto (@tennisfi) September 16, 2021
🎾 Otto Virtanen – Prajnesh Gunneswaran
🎾 Emil Ruusuvuori – Ramkumar Ramanathan
🎾 Henri Kontinen/Harri Heliövaara – Rohan Bopanna/Divij Sharan
🎾 Emil Ruusuvuori – Prajnesh Gunneswaran
🎾 Otto Virtanen – Ramkumar Ramanathan pic.twitter.com/wYi6DyGpOm
With Sumit Nagal missing the Davis Cup team as he was away competing in a Challenger at Poland, the onus has fallen on India No. 1 Prajnesh Gunneswaran and India No. 3, Ramkumar Ramanathan to lead the charge in the singles matches against an impressive Finnish side.
To Finland's benefit, they will have the World No. 74 'Flying Finn' - Emil Ruusuvuori on their side, along with a lower-ranked Otto Virtanen (No. 419) for their singles rubbers. It is the higher-ranked Ruusuvuori that will form the main challenge for the Indians as both Prajnesh, ranked World No. 165 and Ramkumar, ranked World No. 187 are not even in the top-150 of the ATP rankings.
Moreover, Prajnesh had a recent tryst with Ruusuvuori at the ATP 500 event in Washington in August where the Indian went down, 6-2, 1-6, 1-6. This further puts the ball in the court of the Finnish side but with Rohit Rajpal, the captain of the Indian Davis Cup team and Zeeshan Ali, the coach, present - Prajnesh will have a new strategy up his sleeve as he readies himself for the Scandinavian challenge.
First up on Friday:— Suomen Tennisliitto (@tennisfi) September 16, 2021
🇫🇮 Virtanen - Gunneswaran 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/ev8ym0evvH
To start off proceedings, it will be Prajnesh Gunneswaran who will open the side for India against the 20-year-old Otto Virtanen. This match should be pocketted by India as Prajnesh has the greater experience on tour as compared to the young Virtanen who mostly competes in the ITF and Challenger circuits.
If Prajnesh gets the first win on the board for India, the pressure will be off Ramkumar Ramanathan who will play against the 22-year-old Emil Ruusovuori. The dangers of playing this Finn are several he has downed 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem in a Davis Cup rubber in 2019 and most recently, Ruusovuori ended Olympic champion Alexander Zverev's run in the second round of the 2021 Miami Open.
India needs to play their cards well in this tricky tie and the pressure is expected to be immense on both Ramkumar and Prajnesh who will have to the major share of work in getting India across to the other side and leave no room for costly errors, come what may.
Schedule or When to watch?
Tournament Name: Davis Cup 2021
Round: World Group I tie - India vs Finland
Venue: Espoo Metro Areena, Finland
Dates: 17th and 18th September, 2021
1. Otto Virtanen vs Prajnesh Gunneswaran - not before 8:30 PM IST on 17th September 2021
2. Emil Ruusuvuori vs Ramkumar Ramanathan - later on 17th September 2021
Rest of the matches to be played on Day 2.
Where to watch?
The India vs Finland Davis Cup tie won't be telecasted.
Live Streaming details
The India vs Finland Davis Cup Group I tie can be live streamed on Tennis Channel International platform (via Samsung TV Plus). Alternatively, the tie will be showcased live on ITF TV, for which a subscription is required.