Accra, Feb 28, GNA - Optimism seem to be the backbone of the Finnish tennis team ahead of their scheduled Euro-African Zone II Davis Cup tie against Ghana's Golden Rackets on Friday, March 4. The team, which arrived in the country on Sunday evening, is already looking beyond the Ghanaians' with the real battle four days away. The six-member contingent made up of four players and two officials, trained for the first time on Monday at the centre court of the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium with captain (coach) Joakim Berneri, buoyant about their chances. He told the GNA Sports that, "My boys are very experienced and we expect to win and move up in due course". The coach was convinced that top seed Jarkko Nieminem, ranked 89 in the world, would be the one to watch in the three-day fiesta which qualifies the winner to Zone I. "Jarkko is playing some incredible and amazing tennis lately and I strongly believe he has whatever it takes to take the team far. Though Davis Cup is never about individuals, I know his experience, pace and skills would do wonders for us". Captain Berneri told the GNA Sports. He claimed that, "Jarkko has learnt so much in so short a time that one cannot help but believe in him". Jarkko, 23, has slumped from his impressive 27th world ranking in 2004 to 89 in 2005 due to an injury which forced him to retire during the third round of the last Australia Open when he faced World's number one, Swiss Roger Federer. The captain reckoned that the vast difference of the weather could affect the output of his boys, but had this to say when the GNA Sports quizzed him about the expected obstacles, "they are big boys and know exactly what to do any day. These are very good players who have excelled in many difficult surroundings before".
Number two seed, Tuomas Ketola, 30, Lauri Kliski, 24, and Tommi Lenho, 29 complete the quartet to do battle with Ghana's US-based top seed, Henry Adjei-Darko, former number one seed, Gunther Darkey, Salifu Mohammed and evergreen Daniel Omaboe. Even with little knowledge of the Ghanaians, captain Berneri have lots of respect for Adjei-Darko-led quartet. He told the GNA Sports that, "primarily, it is imperative for one to respect his opponent no matter what. Apart from that, I have been monitoring Henry who to me has exceeded my expectation in all his "Future" tourneys played so far. "Sometimes, it is unbelievable to see how he's managed to survive under difficult conditions. I respect them greatly though we are better". The confident captain added.
The Davis Cup consists of five matches - four singles and one doubles played over three days. On the opening day, the Number Two singles player for each nation is mandated to engage the Number One seed of the opposing nation. The Number One players are matched against each other on day three while the second seeds clash each other in the fifth match. All are played over best-of-five-sets with no tiebreak in the fifth set.