Photo: Srdjan StevanovicNovak Djokovic (SRB)
World No.1 Novak Djokovic and recently crowned US Open champion Rafael Nadal will both take to court in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas on Friday after the draws for the World Group semifinals and World Group play-offs were announced today.
Just four days after contesting the showpiece match at the final Grand Slam of the year in New York, the two will don their national colours and lead Serbia and Spain, respectively, with pride on 13-15 September.
Nadal faces Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second rubber of Spain’s World Group play-off against Ukraine after Fernando Verdasco has taken on Alexandr Dologopolov on Friday, while Djokovic will open Serbia’s bid to reach its first World Group Final since winning the title in 2010 against Canada’s Vasek Pospisil.
Both have faced a quick turn-around for Davis Cup, with lengthy flights and a new surface to deal with this week.
“It’s not the first time I’ve had just two days to get ready for the Davis Cup after long-haul flights,” Djokovic told a news conference after the draw in the 18,000-seater Belgrade Arena.
“The 2011 experience was not a great one when I faced del Potro in the semifinal against Argentina because I was injured, apart from being exhausted, and we lost the tie.”
“I am tired and jet-lagged as I couldn’t get here before Wednesday, but I am fit now and we haven’t played at home in the Davis Cup for two years. Hence I am as motivated and inspired as ever to play for my country in this team event.”
Nadal, who mastered Djokovic in a thrilling four sets in New York on Monday night to win his 13th Grand Slam title, arrived at Madrid Barajas Airport just after 6am yesterday but, despite feeling ‘a bit tired’, stated his intent to continue his undefeated record in Davis Cup singles rubbers on clay.
“I arrived a little bit tired after what happened in New York but I hope to be ready for the confrontation,” said Nadal. “It is always a challenge to change surface in a very short period of time but it is something that has happened in the past to me and I hope to adapt my game to be competitive. I have to try because I feel that it is a very important confrontation for us to stay in the World Group but hopefully I can help a little bit.”
Andy Murray, also well aware of the importance of this weekend for his nation, features for Great Britain on Friday, with the world No. 4 set for a surprise opening clash against US Open junior champion Borna Coric.
Murray, who has never seen 16-year-old Coric play, said he is pleased to be back in the Davis Cup fold ahead of his first tie since September 2011.
“The build-up to a Davis Cup tie is always a good week, having all the guys around,” said Murray. “It’s a challenging match, a chance for us to get back into the World Group, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile, Czech Republic will call on trusted duo Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek as the nation bids to reach its second straight Davis Cup Final. Stepanek, who won the decisive rubber to secure Czech Republic its first title as an independent nation last year, faces Juan Monaco first on Friday before Berdych plays Leonardo Mayer.
It’s the first home tie of the year for the 2012 champion and returning to Prague as Davis Cup holders brings an added responsibility, according to Stepanek.
“Here I feel more responsibility (compared to playing the US Open) for my country and my team and all the fans supporting us – they are our unofficial team member and it’s a privilege to play in front of a home crowd,” he said.
You can view the full draw stories for this weekend’s ties by clicking the relevant tie below.
World Group semifinals
Serbia v Canada
Czech Republic v Argentina
World Group play-offs
Spain v Ukraine
Netherlands v Austria
Croatia v Great Britain
Switzerland v Ecuador
Germany v Brazil
Poland v Australia
Belgium v Israel
Japan v Colombia