Kolkata, January 30: Playing on grass which is what they wanted, India do not have any excuses now going into their Davis Cup World Group qualifiers tie against higher-ranked Italy at the Calcutta South Club, feels non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi.
The grass courts of South Club were chosen as the venue as Bhupathi was keen to play on grass considering that the Italians are solid hard court players.
"We definitely felt that this is our best chance to beat Italy on grass and not on hard or clay because of their strengths." Maria Sharapova Wins Her 1st WTA Match in Russia in 13 Years.
"So we've got the grass now I don't think we have any room for excuses anymore," Bhupathi said at the pre-draw press conference on Wednesday.
The Indian team coached by Zeeshan Ali and boasting of the seasoned doubles pair of Rohan Bopanna-Divij Sharan, in-form singles players Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan came in early to get used to the courts here.
The hosts trained at the Gymkhana Club for the first five days before hitting the South Club practice court, which coach Ali felt was on the slower side.
Asked how much of an advantage it would be during match days, Bhupathi said: "We will know about that on Saturday if the advantage played out for us or not. It's been extremely cloudy and overcast in the last two days and that also is a factor into the conditions of the court. Today it's sunny and hot so it's a bit quicker. we don't know what's going to happen on Friday and Saturday."
Italy will be without their top player Fabio Fognini but have two players in the top 50 -- Marco Cecchinato (19), Andreas Seppi (37) -- along with Matteo Berrettini (53), Thomas Fabbiano (85) and doubles world number 138 Simone Bolelli.
The Indian challenge will be spearheaded by Prajnesh who recently achieved a career-best ranking of 102 alongwith Ramkumar (133) who is good on grass. In doubles, Bopanna and Sharan clinched the Maharashtra Open last month in Pune.
"There is a belief that everyone can contribute to hopefully upset the Italians over the weekend."
"But when we keep referring to the word 'underdogs' it's just you know what's put on the statistics and on paper and on the current rankings. That's how the sport is. When a team is playing another team in any sport, one team is underdogs one team is favourites. We are going in as underdogs, that's the bottom line," Bhupathi maintained.
Asked whether the Italians have an advantage over the Indians in the doubles rubber, Bhupathi said: "Honestly, I think one of the last matches I played in my career, I lost to Bolelli and Seppi in Dubai, and they won the tournament. That was a (ATP) 500. They have got the experience. Bolelli won Grand Slams... one 500."
India competed in its first Davis Cup in 1921 but has yet to win the Cup. India finished as runners-up three times (1966, 1974, 1987). India last played Italy in 1985 when the former won 3-2 in the first round. Overall, Italy lead the head-to-head count 4-1.