Hosts Serbia will head into their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinal clash against Spain as strong favourites, with World No. 2 Novak Djokovic leading their charge against the five-time winners who will miss their talismanic pack leader Rafael Nadal.
The Serbians, in contrast, will be at full strength as team captain and doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic, Viktor Troicki and Dusan Lajovic will line up as Djokovic’s support cast in the acoustic Aleksandar Nikolic Arena the upcoming weekend.
Djokovic will take on Ramos-Vinolas in the tie’s opening singles rubber on Friday, followed by a clash between Troicki and Carreno Busta.
Zimonjic and Troicki have been nominated to play Jaume Munar and Marc Lopez in Saturday’s doubles, while Djokovic meets Carenno Busta and Troicki locks horns with Ramos-Vinolas in Sunday’s reverse singles.
Having missed the Miami Open with an elbow injury after a patchy start to the ATP season, Djokovic is keen to make up the lost ground and rediscover some of last season’s devastating form before a spectacular fall from grace saw him relinquish the No. 1 spot to Briton Andy Murray.
“Taking into consideration the Spanish team rankings, they are not to be underestimated at all,” he said.
“It’s still a very good team even though their top two singles players are not here. That’s their strength, they have 10 players they can rotate and are dangerous on any surface.”
“We must take nothing for granted although some would say it’s a third-choice Spain team here. Nadal is of course their star player but they have a long history of producing top performers and we know we’ll have to be at our best to beat this outfit.”
Djokovic, who steered Serbia to the 2010 title and the 2013 final, pointed out the Davis Cup was more than just an exhibition of the ATP tour’s top-ranked players in a different environment.
“The Davis Cup is never about one player in any team and I hope fans in Serbia are aware that they always ought to come and support their country no matter who takes centre stage on the court”.
“It is not carved in stone that we will stay in the World Group forever, hence we need home crowd support more than ever in our quest to reach the semi-finals this term.”
“It’s always special to play in Belgrade and Serbia in general, as it’s a rare opportunity to get together and win for our country, as well as play quality tennis in front of our fans.”
The two teams met once before in Benidorm, when Spain beat Serbia 4-1 in the 2009 world group’s first round en route to winning the title after a 5-0 drubbing of the Czech Republic in the final.
source: daviscup.com; mondo.rs