“We did not expect Otto to come out and play like this, he barely missed” – Rohit Rajpal

Captain Rohit Rajpal shares his thoughts on the tie after the 1-3 loss to Finland

Views on the tie. 

I think we lost momentum in the first match. We were kind of hoping to win the first match and take it from there. It would have been a different scenario if we had won that but we kind of lost little momentum and that kind of held us back. Overall Otto set the pace for them, he played completely out of his mind. We did not expect him to come out and play like this, he barely missed a ball and hit so many winners that gave the Finnish team good momentum.

How do you think you will bounce back from this for the next tie?

It is a tough time for all the players. As a team, we were hoping to have the boys back home in Delhi, train them for a couple of weeks  – make them sharper and then come here. These are COVID-19 times and players were in different parts of the world. It was difficult to get them to assemble in one place due to COVID. Hence, we decided that we all meet here just before the match. 

That was a bit disappointing for us as it gave us very little time to prepare. All credit to the Fiinish team to have performed well. 

In hindsight, anything that you would change in terms of tactics or approach?

It’s easy to talk in hindsight but not so easy to do so on court considering the way those guys were playing. They played fantastic tennis and they played better tennis than us and deserved to win. We had our chances right out in the first match, we had chances in the second match. Today in the doubles also we had our chances. At this level, if you have your chances and don’t do anything, the other player takes it away very quickly.

Had I got another, I would maybe turn things around and I would have probably got Ram to play in the first match against Otto. He would have troubled him quite a bit, I know that. I think the style of Prajnesh’s play suited Otto very much. So I would have done the combination the opposite way.

What was the thought process after Day 1 and what resulted in the Doubles linedup change?

As we played the first two matches, the feedback from the players was that the surface was not doing much for the serve frankly. The ball moved on these courts only when you hit it flat. Ramkumar has a flatter serve while Divij likes to spin his serve. The spin is sitting up on the court and the ball does not move and so therefore decided to pair Ramkumar with Bopanna.

Rohan emphasized the importance of singles points. How do you work on this aspect?

As a captain, you would like to have a larger pool of players to pick from but unfortunately Yuki Bhambri is not available. I think if he was here it would have been a tougher match for sure. Also Sumit Nagal was not here. I think going forward, we need to go to the drawing board a bit. You know even in doubles. I was talking to Rohan and he said that the fact that he has to play at 40 means that the younger guys are not pushing them enough out of their places.

I think we need to go back to the drawing board and look at the next bunch of the guys and the next bunch of guys behind them to see how we can regroup and come back as you see the game is getting tougher and tougher. We need better strategies, better (younger) players coming up so that’s the game plan. We need to go back to the drawing board. 

Did we consider playing Saketh Myneni on any of the matches?

We did and that is why we got him here. Unfortunately due to COVID related visa issues, he has not been able to travel and play any tournaments. So he was not match sharp. He got a lot of tennis here this week. I am hoping that gets his visa issues sorted, gets back on the tour and becomes sharper. 

Indian based in the Alps region. Works for an IT firm during the weekdays und auch lernt Deutsch. On the weekends, he can be traced somewhere in the Mountains or on backpacker trips. Is a Social Worker / Activist with a deeper interest for Indian / Swiss tennis from the past year.

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