India draw Spain at home for World Group play-offs
India's Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna acknowledge the crowd
India were on Tuesday pitted against European powerhouse Spain as their Davis Cup World Group play-off opponents for the home tie as the International Tennis Federation announced the draw in London.
India had beaten Korea 4-1 in their Asia/Oceania Group I second round tie while Spain defeated Romania with the same margin in their Europe/Africa zonal tie.
India and Spain have locked horns thrice so far in Davis Cup with the European nation leading the head-to-head record 2-1. The last time India played Spain was as far back as 1965 when they lost the away tie 2-3.
In the absence of injured Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri, India played with debutant Ramkumar Ramanathan and Saketh Myneni along with doubles legend Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna in Chandigarh.
World number 15 Robert Bautista Agut led the Spain's challenge along with world number 21 Feliciano Lopez. Pablo Carreno Busta (world number 56) and Marc Lopez (world number 19 in doubles) were the other members of the side.
India are now in the process of deciding on the surface for the crucial home tie, to be held from September 16-18, with the players likely to convey their choice to AITA by Wednesday. According to India's Davis Cup coach Zeehan Ali, grass looks the best option since European players will be unbeatable on clay and hard courts.
"They are one of the toughest teams in the world. Anybody out of the World Group is tough. And Spain is a team that has 12 players in top-100. It's even harder," Zeeshan told PTI.
"In my opinion, grass is the option but monsoon will end and we have to see if it is possible to play on grass at that time in September. It's actually not the season to play on grass and there is not enough time to prepare. It's not like hard courts. You just can't put grass on courts, it has to grow," he said.
"We are discussing the surface with the players. The time frame is only seven weeks. After the players express their choice, the AITA will speak to local federations, who are willing to host the tie," Zeeshan said.