Davis Cup 2018-19 Qualifiers India vs Italy: Can India Overcome the Mighty Italians?

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Mahesh Bhupathi KreedOn
India's hopes will be high from skipper Mahesh Bhupati (Credits Twitter)

India’s fixtures for the qualifiers of the 2019 Davis Cup were declared towards the end of last year and it was decided that Kolkata play the host for the match against Italy.

The West Bengal capital was chosen as the venue only after the All India Tennis Association (AITA) managed to secure two key exemptions from the International Tennis Federation.

The rules made it necessary that the World Group and the play-off ties be played at a venue where the space behind the baseline is 27 feet, with a seating capacity of 4000. Although only the DLTA, as well as the centre court at MSLTA, suffice the two requirements, the venues don’t have grass courts.

Although the tie between India and Italy will be their sith head-to-head meeting in the Davis Cup, it will be their first encounter in over 21 years when they meet in Kolkata in the BNP Paribas Qualifiers.

Head-to-Head Record

On the whole, the Italians have been a dominant force against India when it comes to head-to-head victories. The nation has won the ties in 1928, 1952, 1958 and latest in 1998. To their credit, India has managed to pick up a solitary victory in their only rubber on Indian soil back in 1985 on the grass in Calcutta.

Can the Indian draw inspiration from that rare win in the same city and script another win or would Italy still dominate the tie?

Schedule and Facts: India vs Italy Davis Cup

  • Date: 01 Feb – 02 Feb 2019
  • Venue: Calcutta South Club, Kolkata, India
  • Surface: Grass, Outdoor
  • Ball: Wilson US Open Extra Duty

India at Davis Cup

Captain: Mahesh Bhupathi

Rank 19
The first year played 1921
Years played 82
Ties played 198 (118 – 80)
Years in World Group 14 (7 – 13)
Most total wins Leander Paes (91 – 35)
Most singles win Ramanathan Krishnan (50 – 19)
Most doubles win Leander Paes (43 – 13)
Best doubles team Mahesh Bhupathi & Leander Paes (25 – 2)
Most ties played Leander Paes (56)
Most years played Leander Paes (28)

 

Although India was the runner-up on three occasions (1966, 1974, and 1987), the nation is yet to lift the trophy. Statistically speaking, India and Romania are the only nations to have contested in more than one Final without winning it. Another unique record to India’s name was set in the 1974 Eastern Zone Final when India and Australia played the most number of games in a tie (327).

When it comes to doubles events, India’s tennis great Leander Paes is arguably the most successful player in the history of Davis Cup. He has a record 43 doubles wins to his name. Moreover, Paes holds the record of an unbeaten 24-match streak, a feat that he achieved with fellow Indian Mahesh Bhupathi.

Hopes will be high from India’s veteran non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi. Although the 44-year-old’s role would not be more than an honorary one, India would want to bank on his extensive experience of playing in the competition.

Stressing on the singles to bring India some vital points, Bhupathi quoted. “We’re not focused on the doubles. We obviously have to win 3 points to win the match. So the singles are as important as the doubles for us.”

Squad

Italy at Davis Cup

Captain: Corrado Barazzutti

Champions 1 (1976)
First year played 1922
Years played 88
Ties played 250 (163 – 87)
Years in World Group 28 (22 – 27)
Most total wins Nicola Pietrangeli (120 – 44)
Most singles wins Nicola Pietrangeli (78 – 32)
Most doubles wins Nicola Pietrangeli (42 – 12)
Best doubles team Nicola Pietrangeli & Orlando Sirola (34 – 8)
Most ties played Nicola Pietrangeli (66)
Most years played Nicola Pietrangeli (18)

Italy has traditionally been a force to reckon with. The nation was first crowned Davis Cup champion in 1976 and has finished as the runner-up on six further occasions.

Italy’s tennis legend Nicola Pietrangeli is the leading all-time player in Davis Cup. He holds the record of playing the most number of matches (164), apart from holding the records for the most wins in the singles (78-32) as well as the doubles (42-12) matches. Moreover, Nicola also forms half of the most successful doubles partnership in association with Orlando Sirola (34-8).

Squad

Where to Watch?

The tie between India and Italy will be broadcasted live on Doordarshan (DD). The broadcast will mark the channel’s first major international event coverage in almost 12 months. DD is free to watch channel in India.

Davis Cup History

Davis Cup KreedOn
Credits Twitter

Davis Cup’s history dates way back to 1900 when it began as a challenge between Great Britain and its former colony, the United States. Back then it was played under the name of ‘the British Isles’. Longwood Cricket Club in Boston played the host for the event that culminated with the Americans outright dominated the meeting, winning with a 3-0 lead.

From two participants in 1900, Davis Cup has grown into one of the biggest competitions in the world, with a total of 133 nations participating in 2019.

For more updates on Davis Cup, Stay tuned to KreedOn, the Voice of Indian Sports.

Monish Gadiya is a Pune-based sports author and designer at KreedOn. He is a thorough tech-enthusiast and believes that innovation is the answer to the problems prevalent in the society. Monish graduated from University of Pune with a degree in civil engineering before pursuing a post-graduate diploma course in intellectual property rights. A die-hard football fan, he has represented his college at various football competitions.

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