Great Britain’s Davis Cup team appears increasingly formidable with each passing day, but Ivan Dodig insists Croatia is not concerned by the prospect of facing an in-form British side in its upcoming Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off in Umag.
Leon Smith's men have won six of their last seven Davis Cup ties and with world No. 3 Andy Murray expected to lead the visitors and 23-year-old Dan Evans enjoying a career-breakthrough by reaching the third round at the US Open, Dodig’s Croatia face the very real prospect of slipping out of the World Group for the first time since 2008.
“We are not worried,” insisted 28-year-old Dodig. “Andy [Murray] is one of the best players in the world and it’s going to be very tough to play against him, but at the same time it’s a different surface and it’s Davis Cup. You never know what will happen.”
Croatia has spent 11 of the last 12 years in the top tier of the competition, with its upcoming opponents responsible for its only foray out of the top tier after securing a 4-1 triumph at the All England Club in the 2007 play-offs. But as Croatia seeks to avoid any chance of history repeating itself, Dodig is aware that Britain’s No. 2 player could have a crucial role to play in the tie on September 13-15.
“They have had issues with their second player in the past but now they are rising up,” admitted Dodig. “They have Evans, who played great defeating [Kei] Nishikori and [Bernard] Tomic here [at the US Open]. They also have James Ward who is increasing his ranking, so basically they are moving up to a higher level. This is a great opportunity for them but we are playing at home and we have to try and use this advantage.”
Playing at home hasn’t served Dodig particularly well in the past. He has lost three of the four Davis Cup rubbers he has played for Croatia on home soil and will be determined to bring an end to a six-match losing streak in Davis Cup singles rubbers that dates back to March 2010.
“I’ve had five or six tough matches, losing tight matches, but I’ve always played great players,” reasoned Dodig, whose recent form in the competition hasn’t affected his enjoyment of Davis Cup.
“It’s a great experience. Every player dreams of playing for their country and getting the support from the whole country. I really enjoy it.
“Davis Cup is something different,” he added. “It’s all about the team. Everybody is together, supporting each other and that’s something special. It’s what gives the Davis Cup its special moments.”
With a view to giving the 2005 champions another special moment Croatia may yet call on 34-year-old Ivo Karlovic, if they can persuade the Zagreb native to play his 15th Davis Cup rubber after announcing his retirement from international team competition last year.
“The federation are in contact with him and it would be great if Ivo can help us,” said Dodig. “We will see. It’s an important match for both teams and hopefully we will have a strong team there.”
Croatia plays Great Britain on 13-15 September with a place in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group at stake. Play starts at 11am local time (9am GMT) on Friday 13 September.