Serbia has suffered an early blow ahead of its tilt for a second Davis Cup by BNP Paribas crown with the news that Janko Tipsarevic will not take part in this weekend’s Final after losing a fitness race.
The Serb, who had admitted during Wednesday’s pre-draw press conference that he was “still in the recovery process” following a right heel injury sustained in Valencia in October, made the decision with captain Bogdan Obradovic on Wednesday night and will be replaced by 23-year-old Dusan Lajovic.
Obradovic had plenty of options to choose from for the second singles spot, with Lajovic, Filip Krajinovic, Boris Pashanski and Ilija Bozoljac all bidding for the opportunity to play singles at the Belgrade Arena, but Obradovic has opted for the highest ranked player of the four to come into the fold.
At No. 117 in the world, right-hander Lajovic has been nominated for Serbia for just the second time. His only previous Davis Cup appearance came in the World Group first round in 2012, when he defeated Filip Prpic 64 64 in the dead fifth rubber as Serbia scored a 4-1 triumph over Sweden in Hala Cair, Nis.
Lajovic, who favours hard courts and considers his backhand his best shot, has lost all four of the Tour-level matches he has contested in 2013 and faces a big ask to achieve a result in possible singles encounters against Tomas Berdych, Lukas Rosol or Radek Stepanek. In fact, his last victory at Tour-level came in Belgrade in April 2012, in a first round victory over Evgeny Donskoy, while he has managed just five Tour-level victories in total.
Born in Belgrade but a resident of Stara Pazova, Lajovic’s career-best performance is a quarterfinal finish at the ATP event in St. Petersburg in 2011, where he defeated Jeremy Chardy and Dudi Sela before falling to Alex Bogomolov Jr. in the last eight.
Though results might have been hard to come by in the past Lajovic comes into the Final in decent form, having won his second challenger title of the season in Seoul at the start of November, and is sure to be inspired by the fiercely patriotic atmosphere set to be generated by 15,500-strong sell-out crowds at the Belgrade Arena this weekend.