Though the grass courts would reportedly be available for practice only from 1 February, the Uzbeks, who arrived here on Sunday night, were happy to have a stint at the DLTA Complex on Monday evening.
"Of course, India is the favourite as the tie is on grass. We haven’t played much on grass except perhaps at Wimbledon. We will try to work it out, as we are in good form", said Istomin, quite relaxed after a light practice session.
The Uzbeks had beaten India 4-1 back home at Namangan last year, but India had outplayed the visitors in the earlier tie on grass at Jaipur.
Looking back at the Jaipur tie in which India did not lose a rubber two years back, Istomin said that his team was a lot better prepared this time.
"We can definitely play better than what we did in Jaipur. We have our grass court shoes and we are ready this time", announced Istomin, particularly pleased with his own current form that had seen him stretch Lleyton Hewitt to four sets in the second round of the Australian Open.
Paes unlikely to play
Leander Paes is unlikely to play in the tie following a ligament tear, but the Uzbeks were unwilling to under-estimate the ability of the rest of the Indian squad.
"The Indian players are good on grass. I know that (Rohan) Bopanna and (Prakash) Amritraj are strong singles players. Moreover, every doubles team in India is dangerous", said Istomin who had practised indoors back home after the Australian Open, before reaching Delhi.
While Sarvar Ikramov and Vaja Uzakov have arrived along with Istomin, the second Uzbek player Farrukh Dustov is expected to reach in a few days.
"We hope to get the grass courts early. Anyway, we have time. We don’t have any grass courts at this time back home as it is very cold, with the temperature around minus 10 degree celcius. The winter here is quite pleasant", observed Istomin, sporting a T-shirt.
The Indian team is expected to assemble in a week’s time for the Asia-Oceania group ’I’ tie to be played from 8 to 10 February.