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Chennai will host the Davis Cup, says a confident Anil Khanna

Sports Reporter

— Photo: R. Ragu

Anil Khanna (right) and M.A. Alagappan at the press conference in Chennai on Wednesday.

Chennai: Anil Khanna, AITA Executive Vice-President and Secretary General, was confident Chennai would host the India-Australia Davis Cup tie as scheduled.

“Stephen Schad (Risk Consultant detailed by the ITF for assessing security) had meetings with organisers, the chairman of the security committee K.R. Ganapathy, former CBI chief R.K Raghavan, the Police Commissioner, the G4S Security team, Government authorities and the General Manager of the team hotel. The meetings went exceedingly well. Chennai is a very safe place,” he told reporters here on Wednesday.

The tie is scheduled for May 8, 9 and 10. “We will wait for the report to be sent to the ITF. Unless there’s a specific problem or a concern that he’s mentioned in his report, the tie should be on.

“Based on the practicalities, I am fairly confident it’s on. I’m looking forward to the tie, and there’s no doubt the TNTA and the AITA will host a secure, enjoyable and memorable tie for the Australians,” added Khanna.

Decision next week

Based on the report, the ITF is expected to arrive at a decision early next week.

The AITA secretary general explained that India had successfully hosted 11 weeks of international tennis — ATP, WTA challengers and ITF events — since the Mumbai attacks. “It just goes to show that there’s a secure atmosphere for tennis here. There will be nine more events till the end of May, including the Davis Cup.”

Khanna also went on to add that the security assessment report could be used for suggestions on beefing up security in specific areas.

“It is done in various countries by the ITF, and not just in India. There were no specific suggestions put forth for us this time, since we have a proper security system in place,” he said.

TNTA president M.A. Alagappan, who was also present at the media briefing, said that the best possible facilities would be extended to the visiting players.

“We’ve done all our homework and are confident the tie will be held. We would like to assure the Australians that they would be looked after very well.”

Moving away from security concerns, Khanna believed that Chennai was the most appropriate venue for the tie, given Somdev Devvarman’s run to the final of the Chennai Open.

Appropriate venue

“We’ve traditionally played on grass, but we started thinking about synthetic surfaces after his success here. The TNTA’s organisation levels are very good, and players are familiar with the conditions here, so this is the most appropriate venue.”

On the likely composition of the team, Khanna confirmed that the core members — Somdev Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi — would remain the same, with the current focus on the reserve and practice players.

“We’re roping in some left-handers so our players are ready for Chris Guccione. We may also bring in Yuki Bhambri,” he said.

On the likely 10 a.m. start, he said, “we arrived at the time in consultation with the players. People might prefer evening matches, but we have to respect what our players want.”

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