Chandigarh: Rohan Bopanna on 17 July advised the Indian youngsters to get fitter to negotiate the challenging conditions after he had to play the fourth rubber of Asia/Oceania Group I Davis Cup tie against South Korea instead of Saketh Myneni who skipped due to fitness issues.
Myneni suffered cramps and spasms in his entire body during the energy-sapping second singles match on Friday under hot and humid conditions. Bopanna was forced to play a singles match in Davis Cup after four years but delivered a 3-6 6-4 6-4 win over left-hander Chung Hong to give India a 4-0 lead.
Not only Myneni but Koreans Yong-Kyu Lim and Seong Chan Hong also struggled to negotiate the conditions. They also suffered cramps.
"The youngsters have to be fitter to play five setters, if required. They have to be completely ready. Luckily we were 2-0 on first day and we could wrap it up yesterday. If we had lost one match, then one of these guys had to come and play today," Bopanna said after the match.
"We are learning. It's a tactical call. The captain and coach will have to sit and understand and decide which players are required (for conditions). We need to focus on all these things," he said.
Bopanna last played a singles match in the Davis Cup in 2012 when he won the dead fifth rubber against Uzbekistan's Sarvar Ikramov. It was his 10th singles win in Davis Cup.
Speaking about his struggle on the court against Chung as he was down by a set and a break, Bopanna said he's so used to planning points according to the doubles that it took him some time to re-adjust his strokes and find rhythm.
"It took a while to get used to, not just the movement but also courts. I don't remember when the last time was when I made backhand slice returns. I had to change my style. While returning I was hitting it in alleys, my instincts automatically drove me to hit in those alleys," he explained.
"I was serving too may double faults. He was up a set and a break. But once I got the break the momentum changed. I made him serve and volley which he was not comfortable with."
Bopanna made it clear that he was not willing to play singles despite the win.
"It does not tempt me to play singles. Youngsters have to come out and play it in Davis Cup. I am not playing singles on the Tour any more. It's tough for me," he said.
Asked if he knew he will be required to play today, Bopanna said, "Till this morning, I did not know I am playing. Saketh came and said he can't walk. We had no other option."
Bopanna also said that he is trying to help Ramkumar plan his calender well so that he gets to practice with better players and play bigger tournaments to improve further in his career.