There are selection headaches and selection headaches. Bogdan Obradovic’s are the kind that leave a captain with a smile on his face rather than a frown on his brow.
As his Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final team approaches this monumental occasion in Serbia’s sporting history – the biggest ever, he would suggest – he basically must decide who plays alongside Novak Djokovic in the singles and Nenad Zimonjic in the doubles against a versatile France team this weekend. One is tempted to suggest that whatever he decides he cannot get it wrong, but of course he can.
He is fortunate to have in his corner a man who has seen it all before – many times – in Niki Pilic, whose role as advisor to Serbia’s team has never been more crucial. The Croat is looking to win the Davis Cup for a third different nation, having already won as a captain with Germany and Croatia.
The composition of the Guy Forget’s team will be the critical factor, said Obradovic, who will decide on Wednesday afternoon after one more practice who will fill the role as No. 2: Janko Tipsarevic or Viktor Troicki.
As for his doubles line-up, he will wait until after the opening day’s singles before deciding on that one, but he wasn’t expecting anyone to play three days running, which would rule Djokovic out of the doubles rubber.
Djokovic was undoubtedly speaking for all the players when he described it as “the biggest occasion of our lives”, and as if to emphasise the point Tipsarevic squeezed his honeymoon in before the Final while Troicki forsook playing the BNP Paribas Masters at Paris Bercy last month in order to be “fresh and ready”.
When asked which was more important, winning the Davis Cup or his honeymoon, Tipsarevic came back with an answer that got him off the hook with Mrs Tipsarevic while remaining faithful to Mr Obradovic: “Since honeymoon is in the past, winning Davis Cup is more important,” he replied.
As Tipsarevic has a winning record against both the French No. 1 and No. 2, Gael Monfils and Michael Llodra, he is likely to get the nod. However, as Obradovic pointed out, Troicki won the Kremlin Cup in Moscow in late October on an almost identical surface to the one laid at the Belgrade Arena.
One thing is certain: the magnitude of the occasion is not lost on the Serbs. “It’s maybe the one chance of a lifetime to have it at home and the support of the crowd will probably be crucial,” remarked Djokovic.
Obradovic concurred, adding: “We are a small country. Everybody knows we have not more than 10 million people, and playing the Final of the Davis Cup is great for my country.”