BELGRADE, SERBIA:Repeating the 2010 feat, when Serbia won the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, will be the only thing on Novak Djokovic’s mind when the World No. 1 takes centre stage in Friday’s opening singles rubber of what should be an enthralling semifinal tie against Canada in the Belgrade Arena.
Looking fresh and upbeat at Thursday’s draw after a long-haul flight from the United States after a tough US Open final defeat by Rafael Nadal on Monday, Djokovic said he was looking forward to the tie’s curtain-raiser against Canada’s Vasek Pospisil.
“It’s not the first time I’ve had just two days to get ready for the Davis Cup after long-haul flights,” Djokovic told a news conference after the draw in the 18,000-seater.
“The 2011 experience was not a great one when I faced del Potro in the semifinal against Argentina because I was injured, apart from being exhausted, and we lost the tie.”
“I am tired and jet-lagged as I couldn’t get here before Wednesday, but I am fit now and we haven’t played at home in the Davis Cup for two years. Hence I am as motivated and inspired as ever to play for my country in this team event,” he said.
Janko Tipsarevic, who has returned to the Serbian squad after a lengthy 16-month absence, faces Milos Raonic in Friday’s second singles rubber and hopes for a change in fortunes against the big-serving 22-year old born in Montenegro’s capital Podgorica, who has won their previous three meetings.
“He is one of the biggest hitters in the game and if I can tame his serve I should have a fair chance because the red clay should suit me more,” said Tipsarevic.
Still buzzing from their epic win against the Bryan brothers when Serbia enjoyed a memorable quarterfinal road win over the United States in Boise, Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac will again team up in the doubles to lock horns with Belgrade-born Daniel Nestor and Pospisil.
Nestor conceded the passionate home crowd was unlikely to have any empathy for his roots if the going got tough for Serbia, who thrived in a football-like atmosphere when they beat France 3-2 in the 2010 final.
“They make take it easy on me early on but I think they will forget about it if the home team find themselves on the receiving end,” he said, adding that Zimonjic, his former doubles partner on the ATP tour, was unlikely to have any tricks up his sleeve.
“We know each other very well and we’ve both had success on tour down the years so there aren’t going to be any surprises. He is a big hitter, has a wealth of experience and obviously we have to try to contain him.”
Djokovic meets Raonic and Tipsarevic plays Pospisil in Sunday’s reverse singles. Should the tie still be alive after Saturday’s doubles, its outcome could well depend on a fascinating contest between Djokovic and Raonic and the latter made it no secret he just how overwhelmed he was with the atmosphere in the Belgrade Arena.
“I have seen from other sporting events what a great atmosphere the Belgrade arena generates and that the fans are very supportive of their team, especially Novak,” he said.
“Serbia are the favourites as the hosts but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a chance. Things are going to be tight and close, I know what I need to do and what my strategy needs to be.”
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
R2: Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) v Milos Raonic (CAN)
R3: Ilija Bozoljac/Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) v Daniel Nestor/Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
R4: Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Milos Raonic (CAN)
R5: Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) v Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
Captain Martin Laurendeau (CAN) - 12/09/2013
Captain Bogdan Obradovic (SRB) - 12/09/2013
Novak Djokovic (SRB) - 12/09/2013
Daniel Nestor (CAN) - 12/09/2013
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) - 12/09/2013
Milos Raonic (CAN) - 12/09/2013
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) - 12/09/2013
Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) - 12/09/2013