INDIAN TENNIS LEGEND Vijay Amritraj on Wednesday said the country can make it to the Davis Cup World Group only if its players are within the world's top 100 singles rankings.
The 61-year-old added that with players outside the top 100 or 50 it will be difficult for the country to push through in four singles matches at the Davis Cup playoff stage.
Currently India does not have anyone in the top 100 singles rankings with the best ranked being Yuki Bhambri (125), followed by Somdev Devvarman (166).
Bhambri lost both his singles matches against the Czech Republic, that contributed to India's 1-3 loss in a Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie.
The home team will now remain in Group 1 Asia/Oceania of the tournament.
“First day was unbelievable when Somdev won the match against Vesley. Very disappointing on the second day. Czech are ranked No. 1 team in the world and we are 21. So for us to get into the World Group, it’s absolutely critical for us to have players in the World’s top 100, otherwise it’s difficult to push through in four singles matches,” Amritraj told reporters in Mumbai.
“If you have players in top 100 or 50 then you can push these guys like Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray and everyone else. Or else it becomes difficult. We have to consistently look for players, other than Somdev, Yuki,” he said.
The Padma Shri award winner believes India can't afford one tennis player rising every eight to ten years.
“When you look at tennis as a whole, it’s critical to have dozens of players coming at a young age. You can’t always have one person coming out every eight ten years. I think it’s important to have that push in the younger age, like the Swiss, Spaniards etc,” he said.
Speaking on the top ranked women's doubles partnership of Sania Mirza and Swiss star Martina Hingis, Amritraj heaped praise on the duo calling them a great pair.
“Sania and Martina getting together is a perfect complementary aspect of how they play. Sania goes for broke from the back of the court because she has an extremely powerful forehand and Hingis is extremely good with her volleys and the way she has racket work at the net. The thing about doubles is complementary, you have to be complementary,” he said.
Sania-Martina won the women's doubles title at Wimbledon, followed by the US Open recently.
“For example the way I and Anand Amritraj (brother) played doubles together, he was conservative on the court and I was aggressive. I made mistakes, Anand was consistent, I made winners he was consistent, so we combined well together. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were a good team. Mahesh was a solid one and Paes made the moves. So I think these kind of complementary aspects of tennis is critical,” he said.
When asked about when veteran Paes should plan to call it a day to his career, the player-turned-commentator said, “It’s a desire to play. If he wants to play and he feels fit enough to play he should carry on. When you are playing doubles, it does not put so much pressure on your body."
“You can play 20-25 weeks in a year, take a week off and go on. It’s not like 20-25 weeks playing singles, that’s a totally different ball game,” Amritraj said.