In less than two weeks, India will take on Serbia in the Davis Cup World Group Playoffs and the hosts, will be without their champion singles player Novak Djokovic. The Serbian ace has decided to skip the tie, just like he did in 2014 when the two countries met in Bangalore.
In the absence of the former World Number 1, Serbia will have a similar line-up from four years ago and will be led by the duo of Filip Krajinovic and Dusan Lajovic.
“It’s obviously good news that Djokovic won’t be coming, but they’ve still got strong players that we will have to work really hard against,” India’s Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali told Indian Express. “Then there are the conditions that need to be dealt with as well which will make things more difficult.”
Since 2014, Krajinovic, who hasn’t lost against India in singles, has moved up the rankings to 33, a massive jump of more than 70 places. 28-year-old Lajovic has been a regular for Serbia since the last two years, and in 2014 defeated Yuki Bhambri before losing to Somdev Devvarman.
The Serbian team for this tie will also comprise Laslo Djere, Pedja Krstin and Nikola Milojevic. Apart from Krajinovic, all the Serbs played against the United States in opening round World Group loss in February.
The Indian team, whose players are not as well established on the tour, will be led by Bhambri, followed by Ramkumar Ramanathan and Asian Games Bronze medallist Prajnesh Gunneswaran.
For the doubles rubber, the Indians will field the pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan, who recently won Gin the doubles event of the Asian Games. The doubles rubber is arguably the match India will have an upper hand in since the Serbian squad is made of singles specialists.
The Indians in turn are expected to arrive in Belgrade by Saturday and will attempt to acclimatise to the conditions before moving on for the tie to Kraljevo in central Serbia.