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Fighting talk from NZ Davis Cup team

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/01/2017

New Zealand are underdogs but are talking tough heading into an enormously challenging Asia/Oceania group one Davis Cup tie in India.

Doubles specialist Artem Sitak accepts the Kiwis face a sizeable task to win the first-round tie against an Indian side who have had their measure in the last five meetings.

The 33rd-ranked New Zealanders must overcome foreign conditions in Pune, where 19th-ranked India hasn't hosted a tie for more than 43 years.

It is the last tie in charge for the home side's long-serving captain Anand Amritraj and, quite possibly, of accomplished doubles player Leander Paes.

Taking out the emotional element, India have raw numbers on their side.

Singles players Saketh Myneni (199th) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (276th) are ranked well ahead of visiting counterparts Finn Tearney and Rubin Statham, who are both in the 400s.

"Rankings don't mean much often," Sitak said at the tie launch.

"It's going to be a battle and you never know about it in the Davis Cup. Every match will be close,"

Statham is the most capped New Zealand Davis Cup player of all time and has forged a sound record for his country.

Another ace up New Zealand's sleeve is in doubles, where Sitak and world No.38 Michael Venus are both ranked higher than whatever combination the hosts field.

Kiwi non-playing captain Alistair Hunt says his players have enjoyed an uneventful week's preparation, having adjusted to the medium paced, high-bouncing surface.

He predicts matches to stretch beyond three sets.

"I think it will be good for both teams and make for a pretty physical tie," he said.

"The heat hasn't been a factor."

New Zealand beat India in their first three Davis Cup meetings, all in the 1970s, but India have dominated since grabbing victory in 2002.

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