Indonesia braced for hard game against Uzbekistan
Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Indonesia's Davis Cup squad faces an uphill task in its away tie against Uzbekistan in first-round play in Group 1 of the Asia/Oceania Zone, which begins on Friday.
"It will be a difficult game for the Indonesians. The Uzbeks have the upper hand over us in every area," Benny Mailili, a tennis columnist, told The Jakarta Post here on Thursday.
Led by nonplaying captain Tintus Arianto Wibowo, the squad comprises Suwandi (ranked 492 in the world), Peter Handoyo (583), Febi Widhiyanto (783) and Davis Cup debutant Prima Simpatiaji (907).
Suwandi is the only surviving member of Indonesia's Davis Cup team that lost to Uzbekistan 3-2 in Jakarta in 2001. In that match, he lost to Oleg Ogorodov (now ranked 189) and defeated Vadim Kutsenko (162), both of whom he is likely to see again during the three-day encounter in Tashkent.
The host team also will include newcomers Sarvar Ikramov (883) and Murad Inoyatov (1121), with team captain Abdukhamid Makhkamov leading the squad.
"Judging by the players' rankings, Uzbekistan should be far stronger and more powerful than Indonesia," Benny said.
He said Uzbekistan would take to the court with a good head-to-head record against Indonesia and more experienced players, being regular participants in international ATP tournaments.
"They at times take part in Grand Slam qualifications. This should speak for itself about how we should assess our players' chances," Benny said.
Apart from Suwandi, the Indonesians also will be relying on Peter Handoyo, whose recent good form contributed two victories in Indonesia's 3-2 Davis Cup defeat to New Zealand in early 2002.
In a match against China Peter also chalked up two wins in two matches, giving the 24-year-old American-based player a perfect 4-0 record in the Davis Cup.
"He actually doesn't have any exceptionally powerful strikes, but watching him play out there I'm impressed by his fighting spirit," Benny said.
However, Benny doubted Peter could lift the team to victory, particularly when also taking into account the cold weather in Uzbekistan and the hostile crowd.
Two singles matches will be played on Friday and the doubles match will take place on Saturday. The two sides will complete the competition with the two reverse singles matches on Sunday.
Other ties in Group 1 are India against Japan, New Zealand versus Pakistan, and Thailand against South Korea.