Kolkata: Indian tennis legend Mahesh Bhupathi, who is the non-playing captain of the Davis Cup team to take on Italy in the World Group qualifiers, has high hopes from his singles' players Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanthan.
"We are not focused on the doubles. We obviously have to win three points to win the match. So singles are as important as the doubles for us," Bhupathi told IANS.
Both Prajnesh and Ramkumar have had a good 2018 and fancy their chances on grass, which was the principal reason Bhupathi chose to play here at the Calcutta South Club.
Against higher-ranked Italians, India are expected to bank heavily on the experienced Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan with the Jakarta Asian Games gold medal-winning Indian doubles pair also winning at the Pune ATP earlier this month.
But Bhupathi stressed if Prajnesh and Ramkumar can "believe in their ability" and rekindle the same form, anything is possible.
"Prajnesh and Ram(kumar) were successful last year and hopefully they can believe in their ability to beat three players and play good matches on Friday," the 44-year-old multiple doubles' Grand Slam winner said.
Prajnesh, who started 2018 as world no. 243 and ended it as no. 104, won two ATP Challenger titles and also upset now world number 27 Denis Shapovalov on grass at Stuttgart Open last year. He also won men's singles bronze at the Jakarta Asian Games.
Ramkumar, on the other hand, became the first Indian men's singles player since Somdev Devvarman to reach the final of an ATP World Tour event. He eventually finished as the runner-up at ATP 250 Hall of Fame Open on the grasscourts of Newport in July.
Bhupathi also spoke on his former partner Leander Paes with whom he does not share a great relationship now, saying the tennis ace has a "big possibility" to be in the mix for Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Paes, who is a 1996 Olympics bronze medallist, holds the record of being the only tennis player to feature in seven editions of the Games.
"I do believe he still has it in him. I believe that's (2020 Olympics) is a big possibility," Bhupathi said.
On Sania Mirza making a comeback after becoming a mother, Bhupathi said Sania has always outperformed her ambitions and if she wants she can.
"It's her decision and I am sure if she wants to, she can do it. Sania has always outperformed her ambitions. So that's her decision." (IANS)
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