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Format change: Advantage India, says Prajnesh 

Kolkata, January 29

India’s No. 1 singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran said beating formidable sides is a possibility in the new Davis Cup format as he looks forward to cash in on his stupendous form in the qualifier match against Italy. Best-of-three set matches would be played inside two days as 24 teams will lock horns around the world on Friday and Saturday in their bid for the World Group Finals in Madrid in November. “Honestly, the change in format would not really matter to me. It’s a bit more physical if we play five sets and in the best-of-three anything can happen. It’s in two days and not three days so I don’t really see too much of a difference,” Gunneswaran said.

Gunneswaran on Monday jumped seven places in the world ranking to be on a career-high rank of 102 as he attempts to build on a successful 2018. “I’m just going to approach it like every other match. I focus, prepare for my match and then I try to execute my game plan. I do not worry too much about the situation or what’s on the line and all of that,” he said.

India coach Zeeshan Ali said the playing surface at Calcutta South Club was slower. “There are bad bounces which is normal, the ball is staying low. But having said that, it is still slower than what we expected,” Ali said. India have chosen grass keeping in mind the Italians’ big advantage over clay or hardcourts. But the fact remains that grass is not a familiar surface for both Indian and Italy.

Hewitt flays ‘ridiculous’ changes to format

Australia’s Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt has criticised Barcelona soccer player Gerard Pique and his Spanish investment group Kosmos for making sweeping changes to the 119-year-old tennis competition. The Davis Cup will be revamped to create a tennis World Cup after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) signed a 25-year $3 billion deal with Kosmos where the home-away system will be replaced by an 18-team tournament played over a week in Madrid. “He (Pique) knows nothing about tennis. It’d be like me asking to change things for the Champions League,” Hewitt told reporters ahead of Australia’s Davis Cup qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina. “The two biggest points of difference were, one, the home and away aspect of it and, secondly, was the best-of-five sets. If you look at the pinnacle of our sport, which are the four Majors, they’re best of five sets,” he added. 

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