India will face five-time champions Spain in Davis Cup 2016 World Group Playoffs, starting September 16 in New Delhi.
Andre Agassi shocked the world in 1999 when he ended the season as World No. 1, rising from a miserable 141 in two years. At that time, a 12-year-old Saketh Myneni from Vizag dreamt of repeating the feat.
By the age of 23, he was pursuing a degree in economics from the University of Alabama. The university gave him easy access to tennis – which is why he opted for it. Eventually, he took up tennis professionally when he moved to Hyderabad.
“I loved Andre Agassi while growing up. His comeback story to the top after being away from tennis for good has been the biggest inspirations in my life,” Saketh, who is a part of India’s Davis Cup team, said in a conversation
After failing to make the main draw of a grand slam five consecutive times, the 28-year-old finally broke into the elite level of tennis this year in the US Open. Although he crashed out in the opening round, he was lauded for the tough fight he put up as a new-comer.
“The US Open was one of the best experiences I have had so far. I received an unbelievable amount of support there, right from my qualifying rounds till the last match I played. Overall it was a wonderful run,” Saketh, who has a massive task ahead of him at the Davis Cup, said.
The World No. 143 will face five-time champions Spain along with Ramkumar Ramanathan, Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes in the Davis Cup World Playoffs in New Delhi from September 16-20.
Spain’s Davis Cup squad features Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez. As three of these four rank among the top 20 in the world, the imbalanced Indian side face a massive challenge.
“Having Rafa and Ferrer playing in India is big. All the Spanish guys are a great competition. Spain is one of the most successful Davis Cup teams. It has produced so many stars of the sport. It is a powerful team with a tremendous history,” he said – shedding light on the intense contest awaiting the unseeded Team India.
“No matter what, it will be a tough challenge. We’ll be the biggest underdogs there, but we still will have to enjoy our game and compete as hard as possible. Although it seems like an uphill task, we hope to create some chances and play our best tennis,” he added.
The Davis Cup has five rubbers out of which four are singles and one doubles. While Spain will field their best players, Nadal and Ferrer in the singles, India will put Saketh and Ramkumar up against them.
Although the Spaniards are overwhelmingly the favourites, Indians have often proved giant killers in the Davis Cup. So an upset is always hoped for.
The winner of the World Playoffs will qualify for the 2017 David Cup’s World Group. In reference to that possibility, Saketh said India would do everything to grab those three points.
The upcoming tennis star, who credits his parents and trainers for his run so far in the sport, hopes to finish the season on a strong note. “I’ll be mostly playing in Asia during the rest of the year. I hope I finish strong and come back strong next year with the Australian Open,” he signed off.