The Indian players may not be formidable on grass but playing Italy on that surface will give the hosts a psychological advantage, reckons Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali.
To qualify for the inaugural 24-team Davis Cup Finals, India need to beat Italy which boasts four top-100 players, led by world number 13 Fabio Fognini.
The Italians, who are superior on hard and clay courts, might struggle on grass and that is the reason why the Indian team management has asked for a tie at South Club in Kolkata.
“Playing on clay or hard is going to be difficult. The surface on which we have the best chance against them is grass. It is not about whether our players are good on grass or not, but they are better against them playing on grass than on clay or hard,” said Zeeshan on the sidelines of Pune Challenger tournament.
The tie will be held on February 1 and 2 and the winners will play the Finals in November in Madrid.
When reasoned that better players can adjust better to the conditions, Zeeshan said, “If you look at someone like Fognini, I agree. A guy who is World No. 13 knows how to play on all surfaces. Otherwise he wouldn’t be No. 13. But if you look at other players, they don’t have that much experience playing on grass.”
The last time India hosted a tie on grass was in 2016 against Korea in Chandigarh, winning 4-1.
Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan are more comfortable on hard courts while Prajnesh Gunneswaran is a solid player on clay too.
“Now, all our players also don’t play on grass. Having said that Ram won in Newport (he made the final). Psychologically it makes a difference,” said Zeeshan.
“Playing on grass doesn’t mean we will win for sure, or that they don’t know how to play on grass. It’s just that we feel that we have a better chance on grass. Grass is the one, among the three surfaces, that gives us the best chance of upsetting a team like Italy.