A brief look at the players who will battle it out on centre court… ASHWIN ACHAL
Thomaz Bellucci, Brazil
(Singles ranking: 27*)
Bellucci is the top ranked player on display in this tie, and will spearhead Brazil’s quest to regain a spot among the elite in the Davis Cup. The left hander has had a steady 2010, clinching his second career ATP title at the Movistar Open in Santiago, Chile after a series of consistent performances. Bellucci has inevitably drawn comparisons with his idol Gustavo Kuerten, the often controversial former world no.1, who has set the benchmark for tennis professionals from Brazil. Though Bellucci’s record is not yet nearly as impressive as Kuerten’s, recent modifications in his game with the help of new coach Joao Zwetsch have helped him grow in confidence. Bellucci’s hard court record is not as impressive as his exploits on clay, but the big server still remains the man to beat in Chennai.
Ricardo Mello, Brazil
(Singles ranking: 75*)
Another left hander, Mello’s ranking limits him to primarily Challenger events — a rung lower than the elite ATP World Tour tournaments. In the ten Challenger events Mello has played in 2010, he has reached four finals, where he has racked up two wins and two losses. Mello has had a mixed record in recent years. After he reached a career best ranking of 50 in July 2005, he slipped outside the top-150 during 2006-09. He is making a comeback this year, and a strong performance here could see him gain the confidence needed to finish 2010 on a high.India
Somdev Devvarman, India
(Singles ranking: 113*)
India’s numero uno singles player is back in Chennai, the city where he spent his formative years. Having spent hours practising here during his youth, Somdev knows the SDAT stadium inside out - a key factor in AITA choosing Chennai as the venue for the tie. Somdev is best described as a slugger, someone who will retrieve opponents’ shots which at first glance appear to be certain winners. This forces the opponent to attempt risky shots, leading to errors. With the strong Paes-Bhupathi combination nearly guaranteeing the home team a point in the doubles, a cautious Indian fan will expect Somdev to defeat the 75th ranked Ricardo Mello, and then hope for one Rohan Bopanna victory to secure the tie.
Rohan Bopanna, India
(Singles ranking: 479*)
After Bopanna reached the recently concluded US Open final with partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, a proud nation has been swift in anointing him its new doubles hope. But India now requires Bopanna to deliver in the singles, a format he has not engaged in much this year. Bopanna has made it to the main singles draw of only two tournaments in 2010, losing both in the first round. Despite his lack of solo action, Bopanna’s results in India’s two previous Davis Cup ties —gainst Russia (March 2010) and South Africa (September 2009) — are encouraging. The Bangalorean had beaten Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia and Rik de Voest of South Africa, both significantly higher-ranked players. Rohan’s victory over the latter had elevated India into the 2010 World Group. If Bopanna upsets his Brazilian opponents in Chennai and scripts an Indian win, the nation will hail its hero all over again.
*All rankings as of Sep 13, 2010
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