x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Janko Tipsarevic injury puts even more pressure on Novak Djokovic

With Serbia crippled by injuries and suspensions, all eyes will be on Novak Djokovic to lead his country to its second Davis Cup title, over the defending champions from the Czech Republic.

With Janko Tipsarevic, left, out due to injury, things just got that much tougher for Novak Djokovic, centre, and Bogdan Obradovic in Serbia's Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic. Marko Drobnjakovic / AP Photo
With Janko Tipsarevic, left, out due to injury, things just got that much tougher for Novak Djokovic, centre, and Bogdan Obradovic in Serbia's Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic. Marko Drobnjakovic / AP Photo

BELGRADE // With Serbia crippled by injuries and suspensions, all eyes will be on Novak Djokovic to lead his country to its second Davis Cup title, over the defending champions from the Czech Republic.

The second-ranked Serb, who is on a 22-match unbeaten run, has to do what he has done numerous times in the past: win both singles matches to give the small Balkan country a chance in the best-of-five series, starting Friday.

However, Serbia’s prospects grew dimmer yesterday when Janko Tipsarevic was ruled out of the final with a heel injury.

Serbia will also miss Viktor Troicki, the star of the 2010 Davis Cup home victory over France. Troicki is out because of a 12-month suspension for skipping a doping-test-related blood test in April.

The draw pitted Djokovic against Radek Stepanek and Tipsarevic’s replacement, Dusan Lajovic, against Tomas Berdych in Friday’s opening singles.

The doubles are scheduled for Saturday and the reverse singles will be contested Sunday.

“It’s a real drawback for our team that we don’t have both Janko and Viktor,” Djokovic said. “I hope that I can win the first match, the first point is very important as it could release pressure on Lajovic.”

The 117th-ranked Lajovic has played only one Davis Cup match, a dead rubber, and has no major victories against top players on the ATP Tour.

“I’m very excited that I’ll play on Friday,” Lajovic, 23, said. “With the support of the crowd, I could maybe surprise Berdych.”

Berdych said he has never watched Lajovic play and will try to adjust to his game. “I will do some scouting before the match,” Berdych said. “It is good that this is a best-of-five match and I’ll have time to adjust.”

Berdych, who has a 13-1 record in Davis Cup doubles with Stepanek, predicted the doubles will decide the winner.

Djokovic said that although he has not played many doubles matches in recent years, he would be ready on Saturday, if needed.

First, he has to focus on the match against Stepanek before deciding whether he would play the maximum three matches in three days.

“Stepanek is a very tricky player,” Djokovic said of the Czech veteran. “He likes to rush to the net and change the rhythm of the match.”

Stepanek said the fact that he is not favoured to win against Djokovic may help his play.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Stepanek said. “My advantage is that no one expects me to beat Novak.”

Djokovic has won his past four tournaments, including the ATP finals in London, where he beat the top-ranked Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in the final on Monday.

The Czechs are in the final for the third time in five years.

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