Novak Djokovic, alongside current teammates Nenad Zimonjic and Janko Tipsarevic as well as former player Slobodan Zivojinovic, headlined this weekend’s latest group of recipients of the Davis Cup Commitment Award.
The world No.1 has reached the minimum 20 home or away ties required to be eligible for the award with his nomination in this week’s World Group semifinal tie against Canada in Belgrade.
The Serbian stalwart first appeared for his nation in 2004 in a Zone Group II tie against Latvia and has been a key part to the rapid rise to success for his nation that saw them win the title back in 2010.
Also receiving the award this weekend during the Netherlands successful tie at home to Austria was former doubles world No.1 Paul Haarhuis.
“I'm proud of this,” Haarhuis said. "Playing in a team, playing for my country was the biggest honour and the highest possible achievement for me."
Haarhuis entered the Dutch limelight in 1989, when he beat John McEnroe at the US Open sporting an unfashionable haircut with an unfashionable racket made by an even less fashionable discount retail store who also clothed him.
American reporters asked him who he was and where he came from. His answer: “I'm Paul Haarhuis, and I come from Mars.”
In Davis Cup, Haarhuis excelled, with a 31-18 record. His victory over Boris Becker in 1995 stands out on paper, but he was also the best performer in his nation's most memorable victory, when they beat Spain in Spain 3-2, with underdog Mark Koevermans beating French Open legend Sergi Bruguera in a thrilling five-set encounter. Haarhuis had set up Koevermans for the unlikely win, beating both Bruguera and Carlos Costa to keep his country in the tie.
Another doubles proponent appearing to receive the award was Jurgen Fassbender, who represented Germany in 23 ties between 1968 and 1979, winning 20 rubbers and helping his nation reach the Inter-Zonal semifinal in 1968.
"I always liked to play in a team, especially Davis Cup," Fassbender said. "I was always honoured when I played for Germany."
A Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 1973, Fassbender’s career spanned the advent of the Open Era, the arrival of graphite rackets, the birth of the ATP Tour – he still carries his card today – and the introduction of the tiebreak.
Fassbender reached three Grand Slam doubles semifinals during his career, and believes the second day of the Davis Cup tie is always crucial – and great entertainment for the fans.
“Many times doubles is the better final in a tournament, and for many people the doubles is very attractive match because you see these quick rallies at the net, you see a lot of action.
“For a country like Germany the doubles is so important. Most of the time in Davis Cup tennis the country that wins the doubles wins the match.”
This weekend presentations have been made to the following players at their respective Davis Cup home ties:
Belgium - Patrick Hombergen
Croatia - Boro Jovanovic
Dominican Republic -Victor Estrella
Germany - Jurgen Fassbender
Latvia - Andis Juska, Deniss Pavlovs
Netherlands - Paul Haarhuis
Philippines - Felicisimo Ampon (posthumous), Johnny Arcilla, Raymundo Deyro, Juan Johnson Jose
Serbia - Novak Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic, Nenad Zimonjic, Slobodan Zivojinovic
Slovak Republic - Dominik Hrbaty, Karol Kucera
Slovenia - Marko Tkalec, Grega Zemlja
Switzerland - Roger Federer*, Heinz Gunthardt, Jakob Hlasek, Marc Rosset
United Arab Emirates - Esam Abdulaal (BRN), Sultan Khalfan Al Alawi (QAT), Omar Al Awadhy (UAE), Mahmoud Nader Alblooshi (UAE), Khalid Al Nabhani (OMA)
*Presented the award at a private ceremony
A full list of award winners can be viewed here.