Bangalore, Mar 11: Focusing on hard facts instead of tradition, the Indian Davis Cup team have chosen hardcourts over the old favourite grass, for their upcoming tie against Australia.
India's non-playing captain S P Misra was in New Delhi on Tuesday to convey the decision to the All India Tennis Association, who will take a call in a week's time on the choice of surface and venue for the Asia-Oceania Group I third round tie to be held from May 8 to 10.
"The players have decided that they want to play the next tie on hardcourts," Misra said, a little after his team defeated Chinese Taipei in a testing away tie. "We had a chat as a team and everybody felt that we should play on the surface Somdev is most comfortable on, and that's hardcourts."
Somdev Devvarman, India's No.1, and the hero of the team's win over Chinese Taipei on Sunday, added: "I'm most comfortable on hardcourts as I've been playing and training on them for the last four years. Having said that, we have to take a team decision and play more to our team's strengths than to our opponent's weaknesses."
As it stands, Somdev is his team's biggest weapon. The team will be looking to him to win two singles matches against an opposition led by former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt.
Hewitt is now ranked 77 in the world. The Australian No.2, the big-serving Chris Guccione, is ranked 134. Somdev is ranked 150 in the singles, while Rohan Bopanna is 317.
The duo will be backed by Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes in the doubles.
If the AITA gives hardcourts the nod, it'll be the first time in 30 years that India will play a home tie on a surface other than grass, which has long been the USP of Indian tennis.
Interestingly, the last time India played a home tie on a surface other than grass was against Australia in February 1979. The side, captained by the great Ramanathan Krishnan and comprising Amritraj brothers (Vijay and Anand) and Sashi Menon, went down 2-3 to John Alexander's Australia at the Gymkhana Club at Chennai.
The decision to ask for a change in surface for a home tie opens new doors. Delhi and Kolkata have been the favoured venues for Davis Cup ties in the past because of the number of grasscourts they had.
Hardcourts will bring in new players like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune.
Misra has also conveyed to the AITA that the players' choice was Chennai. "We thought about two factors, weather and courts when opting for Chennai," Misra said. "But the final decision is the AITA's."
India, Oz in Davis Cup
The last time India played Australia in Davis Cup was in Sept 2002 in Adelaide, Australia. Australia, led by Lleyton Hewitt, won the World Group play-off tie 5-0.
Australia lead the head-to-head 8-3
The last time India defeated Australia in Davis Cup was in the World Group semifinal in Sydney on grass in 1987. Ramesh Krishnan beat Wally Masur in the fifth match to give India a 3-2 win.