The Indian Davis Cup team on the conclusion of a week-long practice camp at the University of Columbia in New York
New Delhi: Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi says the Canada team, which has 'future star' Denis Shapovalov in the line-up, is stronger than the Czech Republic side to which India had lost in the play-offs stage in 2015.
The Indian team, which had a week-long training camp in New York before reaching Edmonton, is set to make a fourth consecutive attempt to qualify for the elite World Group.
After dominating the Asia/Oceania zone, India lost to tennis power-houses Serbia (2014), Czech Republic (2015) and Rafael Nadal-led Spain (2016) at the World Group Play-off stage in recent years.
Canada have named world number 51 Shapovalov, who reached the US Open fourth round, Vasek Pospisil (82) along with seasoned Daniel Nestor (43 in doubles) and Brayden Schnur (202) for the play-off tie, starting on Friday.
"Canada is a quality team but of course we are here because we earned the chance to play them. I personally think they are a stronger team than the Czechs when they came to India," Bhupathi told PTI from Edmonton.
Shapovalov has made quite a splash with his performance in the last few weeks. Before making the US Open fourth round as a qualifier, the 18-year-old had shocked Nadal en route the semifinals of the Montreal Masters. The Czechs had travelled to India with Jiri Vesely (then world number 40 and now 59) and Lukas Rosol (then world number 85) as the main singles players.
Radek Stepanek, winner of two Grand Slam titles with Leander Paes, had played only doubles with Adam Pavlasek.Bhupathi said going to the University of Columbia in New York for the camp has helped the team prepare better for the indoor tie.He also felt that India can produce top-10 players like other Asian nations. "If Japan, Thailand can produce top 10 players, I believe India can too," he said without elaborating.