Davis Cup 2019: Indian tennis stars going extra mile to beat Nur-Sultan chill, says physio Yash Pandey ahead of Pakistan tie

  • India will play Pakistan in an Asia Oceania Group 1 tie in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, with temperatures dropping to freezing levels

  • Team India is travelling with two physios - Anand Kumar and Yash Pandey - to ensure optimum physical fitness in tough conditions

  • Yash Pandey, part of the Indian team setup since 2010, emphasised on the need for proper warm-up before taking court

The Davis Cup tie between India and Pakistan was scheduled to be played on 14-15 September on the grass courts of Islamabad. It has since moved to the hard courts of Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan to be played on 29-30 November. What has transpired in between is plenty of drama and controversy surrounding the national bodies, ITF and the squad itself. But finally, a team comprising Sumit Nagal, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Saketh Myneni, Leander Paes, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Siddharth Rawat.

 Davis Cup 2019: Indian tennis stars going extra mile to beat Nur-Sultan chill, says physio Yash Pandey ahead of Pakistan tie

Indian tennis team's physio Yash Pandey (R) with Sumit Nagal (L). Source: Facebook

In Islamabad, India would have been greeted by sunshine and 20-degree temperature. In sharp contrast, Nur-Sultan is -9 degrees over the weekend. This means an indoor tie and a much different preparation than what the players would have been used to. Team physio Yash Pandey emphasises on the need for proper warm-up before hitting the first ball.

"All the players look to be in good physical form — no injuries and no niggles. They've been doing a lot of activities to ensure they're really warm before hitting the ball. No one wants any injuries. We did a 40-minute warm-up today, cool down lasted an hour-and-a-half which included half an hour of stretching and an hour of massage. It differs from player to player as well. If someone has any minor stiffness, we work on that as well," said Pandey on Monday when India had their first training session in Kazakhstan.

"For example, Sumit Nagal, being a singles player, requires a lot more work than a Leander Paes. But with Paes, an older player, he knows there will always be more wear-and-tear and recovery will be slower. In both cases we have to work hard and make sure both are fully recovered. So in this scenario, it is a young player hitting plenty of balls against an older player who is not playing as many balls but still, for his age, is quite much. Even though both are super fit, we have to work on both of them equally," he went on to add the specifics.

A look at the social media activity of the team highlights the grim temperature. Piles of snow engulfed the team hotel on their arrival on Sunday and it continued to get worse over the course of the night. Thankfully for both sets of players and fans alike, the tie will be played indoors and has heating to make everyone's life easier. But it still creates the chance of picking up a niggle and not realising until later.

"I went to Busan, South Korea (for the 2014 Davis Cup tie), and that was an outdoor tie and that was pretty bad. The temperature was not as low as here. There it was maybe like 7-8 degrees but it was an outdoor tie so we were really struggling. Even to clap was a problem! Here when you've done your warm-ups, you're sorted," said Pandey who has been working with the team since 2010.

"In order to get ready for a match, we have a routine that we've been following for years now. I'm doing extra here so players can get extra warm, just sweating it out before they take the racket. So a proper routine of mobility, activation work and some dynamic mobility work."

With the tie coming in the fourth week of November — at the fag end of the season — the physical preparation differs from February-March. "Usually, when we're in the second or third month of the season, we know we've done a good pre-season training. So all we do is maintenance work. Now towards the end of the season, the body is fatigued and taken a beating over the entire season. We have to make sure we don't push them too much here and in so doing getting an injury which is going to be worse. It is important to maintain a balance of what they can do, should do and not overdoing things. Everyone would be taking some time off after this week and start pre-season in a couple of weeks."

"We're not getting into lifting weights as of now. It is just about getting the core work done, a little bit of pilates and just body exercises. In maintenance and during a tournament we don't go too much on the weights. If this was early parts of the season, I would probably get them to lift light weights on a Tuesday for a Friday match but this is the end of the season so it doesn't make any point," he concluded.

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Updated Date: Nov 27, 2019 09:09:58 IST