There is a gap in Indian tennis but structured plan in place for future: Rohit Rajpal
"There is a gap in Indian tennis at this moment. We are also opening centre of excellence and sports science centre"
India's Davis Cup captain Rohit Rajpal acknowledged that there is a "gap" in Indian tennis at the moment with the next line not quite visible but asserted that a "structured plan" is in place to ensure that the fresh pool of talent emerges soon. Speaking to the media ahead of the Davis Cup World Group 1 play-off tie against Denmark on Friday and Saturday, Rajpal was asked about the plan for the future in Indian tennis given that the squad still features a 41-year-old doubles specialist in Rohan Bopanna.
"We have a decent line-up for singles, we have a good line-up for doubles but we do have an issue that some of the players are getting older for example, Rohan is getting on the other side of 40, and that is worrying for me," Rajpal said in a press conference here. "There is a gap in Indian tennis at this moment. We are also opening centre of excellence and sports science centre. Overall, we are trying to create a pipeline. (Davis Cup coach) Zeeshan Ali has moved to Delhi, we have picked up some kids, some more will be picked.
We have a structured plan. We are trying to cover the gap. That's the effort," he added. About the tie, Rajpal reiterated that the grass court would work to India's advantage and was especially pleased to have Yuki Bhambri back in the mix. Bhambri (863) along with Ramkumar Ramanathan (182) and Prajnesh Gunneswaran (228) make up the singles line-up. "Ram has been playing well, he won a Challenger in the Middle East. I am very happy to have Yuki Bhambri in the team. We have been working on his fitness to make sure he is ready for the tie," Rajpal said. Asked about the home advantage against the Danes, Rajpal said the surface certainly gives India the edge.
"It all depends who you are playing against, if you have a Federer and Nadal then you haven't won half the battle. Otherwise, the home side has advantage because you get to choose the surface," he pointed out. Denmark Captain Frederik Nielsen agreed with that assessment. "I trust my boys, playing on the grass court will not be the biggest upset in the history of Davis Cup but it's needless to say that it may cause some upsets to win this tie," said Nielsen. The two captains also touched on the dying art of serve and volley in an increasingly power-driven game.
"The art of serve and volley is dying. The players are strong, athletic, stroking machines, they run down and hit back, and they hit very hard. The touch is gone, the craft is dying, which is quite sad. (But) over here you will see lot of serve volley," said Rajpal. Nielsen was not particularly sad about the craft's fading relevance and listed the practical reasons why players are looking for big, powerful shots. "Conditions don't suit serve and volley anymore. The players are big, the conditions are slow. The equipment is too good. It's too easy to hit and hit harder shots. "In order to change that you have to change the surface, play on faster surfaces. There is really no benefit in encouraging serve and volley anymore. The surface encourages baseline rallies," he said.