Davis Cup 2017 - India

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Atithee
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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by Atithee » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:14 am

Fair enough Varma. Sadly, I think the next rung of our singles players is so low (or frequently injured) that even an unfit Rohan could still be better than any of them. At least he's standing on the court across the net. But, I'm equally happy to have a Saki in his place.

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by sameerph » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:50 am

Why are you so keen on picking Rohan for singles, Atithee ? Even in his best form, he was not ranked in top 200 and his best results were on grass. We are not going to play on grass against China. With his current fitness levels, Saketh, even Sumit, Balaji, Vishnu etc, would be better in singles.

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by jayakris » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:13 pm

Prashant wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:54 pm
I disagree with Jay's notion that a good doubles player can't just pair up with someone and win a match - the good doubles players from most other countries don't seem to have trouble with this at all. Maybe it is just MB/LP/RB who do. But, I think two doubles specialists puts us at a reasonably high risk of having to field one of them in a singles rubber on day 3.
You misread what I said. It does work if you have a top-25 caliber doubles player playing with a top-100 caliber singles player. That is why I said if we are playing a top-10caliber Davis Cup team, our having just a decent regular pair wouldn't do, and we have to roll the dice with the best doubles player you have and hope/pray that whoever walks in with him just brings out his best. But against the lesser teams, it is better to not take a chance, but to send in a regularly playing pair because they will almost invariably do the job (while a walk-in-and-play pair may actually struggle, and we have seen that enough times with LP, MB, and Bops playing with the others).

The third day singles issue is not that huge if we have won the doubles tie. So, if we are playing China, just make sure that Purav-Divij secures the tie. But let us say Saketh is healthy, and we send him in with Bops. Bops-Saketh who walk in to play has a higher chance to screw it up. But if we are playing a top team with a very strong pair of a top doubles specialist and a top-50 singles guy, I would say there is a higher chance for a Bops-Saketh to have stars align and pull an upset (say 25%) than say Purav-Divij who may only have 5 or 10% chance to win it. The question is on where the "ceiling" is, for the players' abilities. The other team's players do play at a higher level of effort and focus in DC doubles than in normal pro events., so if it is against a top team, we have to send in players with a higher ceiling in their abilities, and hope for something to happen.

So, it depends on the situation and opponents. Against some lower teams, a double pair just ensuring a win is much more than enough, and even one healthy singles player will do, to win the tie. Against some top teams with strong walk-in pairs (or a top-20 doubles team), we may also need to send in a walk-in pair, but then we must do some planning and get our pair to play together at least an event or two. That last part is what we have consistently not done, and it has never worked for us.

But my main point remains that we need to strategize better to win the doubles match, rather than worry too much about the 3rd day and keeping everybody fresh to win 3 of the 4 singles matches, which is not going to happen against almost any team we will play in a world group playoff tie. If we lose the doubles tie, we will never be better than 1-2 after the second day and hoping to win 2 in the final day is futile. See how many times in a row have we failed at WG playoff ties now. At some point we have to learn and do something about WINNING the doubles tie. I didn't see LP taking steps on this as captain. Not Anand Amritraj, and I don't see MB doing that now either. If we do not address the doubles issue, we are not going to EVER make the world group.

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by jayakris » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:32 pm

Prashant wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:10 am
S_K_S wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:09 pm
Why are you guys so convinced that Divij/Purav are the answer? To win a world group playoff Davis Cup, pairs need to be winning ATP tournaments. As a pair their ATP tournament win record is very poor.
Completely agree. Yet another reason why we shouldn't bother with a doubles pair at all. I really hope Saketh is fit for the next tie & they can play RamK/Saketh/Yuki/someone else.
Precisely the conclusion that I object to, as I said in the post above. Your thinking on doubles team's quality and "winnability" are correct and I think the same way too, but your "give-up" conclusion on the doubles match is totally unnecessary. That is the conclusion that all our recent DC captains have had too.

Let us assume for a moment that Saketh was healthy and had been playing decent singles for 2-3 months before the Canada tie. None of us would have objected to a Yuki, RamK, Bops, Saketh team. I would have said Bops and Saketh would have had a 40% chance to beat Nestor-and-whoever. Divij-Purav would have had only a 20% chance. But our thinking has been to give up on the doubles tie. Otherwise, our captain could use his influence (MB does have that with Bops and Saketh) and force them to play even one good event together somewhere, even in challengers, and their chance to upset Nestor-whoever would go up to 65%. But I can bet money that MB (just like LP or Anand before him) would not have done that, and would have expected Bops walking in with Saketh after 3 days of doubles practice to be good enough. They would've lost the match, and we would've lost the tie the same way as we just did. Had Bops-Saki played together in a few matches that mattered, it would be different. There lies the problem. LP did this when he was young and was nurturing MB (with the blessings of Naresh Kumar, maybe our best DC captain ever), and we went all the way to the WG semis, with just one top-100 quality singles player.

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by prasen9 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:35 pm

S_K_S wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:09 pm
Why are you guys so convinced that Divij/Purav are the answer? To win a world group playoff Davis Cup, pairs need to be winning ATP tournaments. As a pair their ATP tournament win record is very poor.
I was commenting only for the China match. For a world group playoff, depending upon the opponent, of course, there may be times when choosing Rohan-Saketh may be the answer (as Jay pointed out above).

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by jayakris » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:57 pm

By the way, everything I said above applies to having LP in the team instead of Bops, too. So, even if the MB-LP politics didn't exist, we would be in the same situation. LP is probably still better than Bops in DC doubles, but the chances of anybody playing with him and upsetting a top team is not significantly better than when it is Bops instead of him. So, in my view, the LP-MB politics is not affecting us as much as some may think. But the attitude towards preparing to win the doubles match, does affect us, and it has continued to affect us in Davis Cup. The same attitude of neglecting the importance of doubles players playing enough together to prepare has cost us multiple medals at Olympics too.

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by Prashant » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:08 pm

Ok, I better understand what you are saying now, and I have no problems with any of the win probabilities you are assuming.

The place where I disagree is I do think we need to heavily emphasize having two healthy singles players for day 3. We are rarely going to be 2-0 up after day 1, so even though I don't advocate giving up on doubles or anything like that, even doubles win *probably* gets us to 2-1. And then, if anything happens to Yuki and his glass limbs, we have ZERO probability of winning the tie on day 3. That's all. If our two best singles players were both average or better in fitness and durability, then we would be in agreement. But that is not the case.

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by Atithee » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:34 pm

It's interesting to me the Jay-Prashant (Samarth and I) are, I think, saying the same thing, but stating their view in converse terms. In essence, everyone is saying that having a specialist doubles team ALL the time doesn't make sense. Right?

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by Prashant » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:50 pm

Atithee wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:34 pm
everyone is saying that having a specialist doubles team ALL the time doesn't make sense.
I am saying that as long as Yuki or Saketh occupies one of the singles slots, it never makes sense because they carry a much higher injury/fitness risk than the average player.

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by jayakris » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:35 pm

Prashant wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:08 pm
The place where I disagree is I do think we need to heavily emphasize having two healthy singles players for day 3. We are rarely going to be 2-0 up after day 1, so even though I don't advocate giving up on doubles or anything like that, even doubles win *probably* gets us to 2-1. And then, if anything happens to Yuki and his glass limbs, we have ZERO probability of winning the tie on day 3. That's all. If our two best singles players were both average or better in fitness and durability, then we would be in agreement. But that is not the case.
Yes, nothing wrong with that. The top two singles players get selected regardless of what happens in doubles. That is Yuki and RamK for now. Keeping a third player and hoping for him to win on the third day (with a probability 10% for our usual third player, normally a 200-300 quality player) against a top-100 or at least top-150 player that any WG playoff team will have), is a worse strategy than adding 25% extra chance to win the doubles match. Against most regional teams, a doubles pair will do the job. But against a WG playoff team, you better get that third singles player to take doubles seriously and be ready to win it on the second day. Without that, we will get nowhere, and won't sniff a WG barring a home tie against a really depleted team that falls sick in India from bad food.

I would even come up with an arrangement for the players in the doubles team to be get paid the gap from their average earnings for the matches they play together on the tour (at whatever level) in the 3 or 4 weeks leading to the DC. They need to be our top-5 players in singles or doubles to get this payment. That is, if Bops is making $4K per match on the pro circuit, and say plays two challengers with say Saketh or Sumit next year just before Davis Cup for 5 matches total making only $4K, he gets the income short-fall of $16K for having done that. Or it can be based on per-event average earnings or some more complicated fair formula. Some incentive must be there for the players to play together before Davis Cup, because the fact is that the players do lose money if they have to do things for the country, and they must be compensated. Anyway, somehow we need to get our singles players (anybody in our top-5, for instance) and top doubles specialists to play together a bit. It just won't happen otherwise, and we simply lose that 30% extra chance to win the doubles match in DC. Of course, you need to get picked by the captain to get that incentive money, so he needs to be on board with the strategy. But he will have the team to select for Davis Cup, and a higher chance to win the doubles, while still keeping a third singles player available for the 3rd day. The regular doubles teams may not get much incentive, but they might chose to play some lesser events and get more matches together to get sharper - and the captain may not pick them anyway :)

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by sameerph » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:19 pm

Overall I agree with Prashant's post about picking 3 singles players. However, we should be mindful that the third singles player has at least played doubles quite regularly on challenger tour.

It is ok if Saketh gets fully fit by then. But, if he is not things become tricky. Our 2 next best singles players, Prajnesh and Sumit do not play doubles at all on challenger/futures tour. So, I don't think we can trust them to win a doubles davis cup tie along with 1 doubles specialist even if they play 2-3 tournaments on tour beforehand .

Then, we have to go down to Balaji or Vishnu. They are good in doubles but have not shown too much ability to even beat top 250 level singles players on tour. So, it would be waste to have them as third singles player.
Therefore, the key to this strategy is for Saketh to get fit and in form.

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by PKBasu » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:24 pm

A late response on the suggestion (from Atithee, I think) that Bopanna should play singles: this is a complete non-starter. Bopanna's famous match against Verkerk (then a recent FO finalist) was in 2003 -- and of course he lost that. Bopanna has a singles record of 10 wins-17 losses -- and he hasn't played singles for at least five years. There is nothing to suggest that he can play singles competitively, especially since he never really showed any ability to actually WIN big Davis Cup matches (rather than heroically lose them!). The Verkerk loss wasn't entirely his fault (the final point was a dodgy line call), but he really didn't have any really significant singles wins (the best probably being over Brazil's Ricardo Mello, followed by one over Rik De Voest). Nothing even to compare with Bhupathi's win over Siemerink. (Of course, if we played on home on grass, there might be a slight argument for sending RB in to play singles if Yuki or RamK was injured; otherwise not even on grass now).

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by prasen9 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:56 pm

All that doesn't matter. Someone who has not played singles will not be match fit. Bopanna will have trouble breaking the top-300 if he starts playing singles again. He won't do that anyway. So, that question does not arise at all.

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by arjun2761 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:21 pm

Agree that the suggestion of Rohan (who couldn't crack the top 200 at his prime) should play 5 set matches at this age and stage of his career is borderline moronic.

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Re: Davis Cup 2017 - India

Post by Atithee » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:26 pm

Ok, I admit that I'm a borderline moron. Happy?

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