Pannu to make Davis Cup debut in opening rubber against Finnish number 1
Captain Kelly Evernden has chosen Kiranpal Pannu and Ajeet Rai to play the singles rubbers for New Zealand in this weekend’s Davis Cup World Group 1 tie against Finland in Helsinki.
25-year-old Pannu will make his Davis Cup debut in the first singles rubber against Finnish number 1 Emil Ruusuvuori, a player ranked 51 in the world, nearly 700 places higher than the Kiwi. (744)
“It’s really exciting and an honour.” Pannu said. “I am a steady player, solid and in the last year ago I have tried to add some more offense into my game. I have grown up being a grinder but at some point, you need to add some weapons and my serve and transition game has improved a lot in the past year.”
The chance to play Ruusuvuori is a dream come true for Pannu who says he has nothing to lose.
“That’s the attitude we need. We can only control what we can control and just go out there and give it our all. Ruusuvuori is obviously the tougher test but tennis is tennis, everybody has always got a niggle and anything is possible in tennis. I just have to go out there and see what happens.” Pannu said.
Ajeet Rai who is ranked 679 will play the number one singles against Finnish number 2 Otto Virtanen who is ranked 252.
Michael Venus and Artem Sitak will take on Ruusuvuori and Harri Heliovaara in the doubles rubber on day two before the reverse singles featuring Rai against Ruusuvuori and Pannu against Virtanen.
The tie is being played at the Espoo Metro Arena with the Rebound Ace Synpave hard court laid over an ice hockey rink. The winner of the Tie will advance to next year's elite Davis Cup qualifiers in early March.
Play begins at 3am Saturday morning NZT. (6pm local time)
Day 1’s LIVE coverage starts at 3AM on Sky Sport 5 (Channel 55)
Day 2’s LIVE coverage starts at 11PM on Sky Sport 9 (Channel 59)