New Delhi: Somdev Devvarman will lead India against the visiting Serbia as the Asian giants attempt to return to the World Group for the 2015 season. India last qualified for the 16-team elite group three years ago.
The Indian team is relishing on the prospects of not playing world number one Novak Djokovic and other top Serbian players like Janko Tipsarevic, a former top-10 player who is recovering from injury, and former No.12 Viktor Troicki, currently serving a 18-month doping ban.
In their last meeting, the 2010 champions defeated India 4-1 in Novi Sad in 2011. But this time, the Indian team can hope for a better outing. For Serbia, in the absence of their top ranked players, the onus will be on their experienced doubles player Nenad Zimonjic.
Besides Zimonjic, Serbia will have the services of Dusan Lajovic, Filip Krajinovic and Ilija Bozoljac. Lajovic is the only top-100 ranked player in the tie.
Countering Zimonjic's guile will be India's 41-year-old tennis ace, Leander Paes. His presence will make sure that India get someone with indomitable spirit and experience to guide an otherwise raw team. Other members of the Indian team are Yuki Bhambri and Rohan Bopanna.
Last year, Serbia lost to Switzerland 2-3 with Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka turning up for the Swiss team. The two Grand Slam winners won their respective matches then Michael Lammer and Marco Chiudinelli then secured victory in the doubles before Dusan Lajovic and Filip Krajinovic restored pride for the hosts on the final day at Novi Sad.
For India, after a hard-fought win against Chinese Taipei in the first round, India travelled to Korea Republic. Despite a loss for Sanam Singh in the second rubber, Indian team did enough with Devvarman winning the final match to earn the right to play Serbia in the play-off.
In the Davis Cup, India have finished runner-up on three occasions – in 1966, 1974 and 1987. Only India, Romania and Argentina have played in more than one final without being lifting the trophy.
The matches will be played at KSLTA Tennis Stadium, Bangalore from September 12 to 14.