CHENNAI, INDIA - Brazil were confident of a good start in the Davis Cup World Group play-off against hosts India after their top star Thomaz Bellucci was drawn to play Friday's opening singles.
World number 27 Bellucci will kick off the tie against the 479th-ranked Rohan Bopanna, according to the draw held on the centre court of the Nungambakkam Tennis Stadium on Thursday.
Ricardo Mello will meet India number one Somdev Devvarman in the second singles.
"I am happy Thomaz is playing first," said Brazil's non-playing captain Joao Zwetsch, who also doubles up as 22-year-old Bellucci's personal coach.
"I am sure Bopanna will be high on confidence after reaching the US Open doubles final, but this is a singles match and Thomaz is well-prepared for it.
"Thomaz has developed his game over the past few years and no one will see him only as a clay court player. He is tough to beat on any surface."
Brazil, who have lost four consecutive play-off ties since 2006, are looking to turn the tide and return to the elite 16-nation competition for the first time since 2003.
The South Americans are superior on paper with even the 75th-ranked Mello placed higher than both Devvarman (113) and Bopanna.
The Brazilian captain, however, refused to take his team's favourites' tag seriously.
"Frankly, rankings do not make much of a difference in Davis Cup, which is all about emotional feelings and the pressure of playing for your country," said Zwetsch.
"As far as we are concerned, it is going to be a tough and very close tie. We do not consider ourselves the favourites."
India chose hard courts over their traditional preference for grass to favour Devvarman, who reached the final of the ATP Chennai Open at the same venue in 2009.
Bopanna will play singles a week after he and his Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi reached their first Grand Slam doubles final at the US Open in New York.
The hosts, however, have the edge in Saturday's doubles where the former world champion duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi take on Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo.
Devvarman will clash with Bellucci in Sunday's first reverse singles, before Bopanna plays Mello in the last tie.
Paes, who begins his 21st year as a Davis Cup player with this match, was confident India will put on a good show.
"Friday is going to be a big day for us," the 37-year-old said. "One good thing is that both Som and Rohan know the whole country is backing them. The support lifts you a great deal.
"India has usually done well in the Davis Cup. And I hope we can build on that expectation." --AFP