Kolkata, January 31: India's top ranked singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran will take on Italy's debutant Matteo Berrettini in the second singles tie on the first day of the Davis Cup World Group qualifier tie here at the Calcutta South Club on Friday.
India's second-ranked Ramkumar Ramanathan will start proceedings against senior-most Andreas Seppi who will spearhead Italy's challenge on grass. The visitors' non-playing captain Corrado Barazzutti, surprisingly, kept out their top-ranked player Marco Cecchinato, who is world number 19, out of the singles. Davis Cup: We Have No Room for Excuses Now, Feels Mahesh Bhupathi.
"I thought that's the best decision in this case," said the 1976 Davis Cup winner about his combination, keeping an eye on the surprise element on grass court, an unfamiliar territory for Italy.
Cecchinato, who stunned Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the French Open last year, will team up with doubles specialist in Simone Bolelli, the 2015 Austrlian Open winner in the doubles, as they take on India's formidable pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharma.
Indian non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi said they're not surprised to see Ramkumar up against Seppi up front.
"Literally in every match Ramkumar has played the first Davis Cup match for us. I am happy Seppi is not going to reveal any secrets," Bhupathi said.
In the shortened format, there will be two singles on Friday and a doubles plus two reverse singles on Saturday as team will have one-hour time before their matches to change the combination. All the matches will now be played over best-of-three sets replacing the gruelling best of five.