Monday, 29 November 2010
Serbia counts on Djokovic
The coach of the Serbian Davis Cup team poised to play a historial final against France said their strength, aside from world No 3 Novak Djokovic, is the friendship among the players.
"Djokovic is important – he is not only the leader of the team, but he has also opened the eyes of the other players that Serbs can do well in individual sports," coach Bogdan Obradovic said.
A Davis Cup victory would be a first for Serbia, which a decade ago were a blip on the tennis radar known more for their football and basketball successes.
But having one star player cannot be a coach's only ace in the pack, Obradovic insists.
He is counting on the friendship between Djokovic and Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic, all peers in age, and the older doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic, who is hugely respected, to pull the team through.
"The friendship within the team is surely the second element that makes it strong (...) I think the good atmosphere, the energy and the eagerness within the team will lead us to victory in the final," he said.
He waved away any doubts on the fitness of Djokovic, who will be coming off a long and punishing season which saw him lose in straight sets to Roger Federer in the ATP Tour Championship semifinals in London on Saturday.
"There's no doubt he will be tired, the season lasts 11 months but all of that is part of playing sports at the top level and he knows that. He is very motivated, he wants to play for his country," the coach said.
Earlier this month Djokovic called winning the Davis Cup "my priority for this year.
"This is a big opportunity that you don't experience ... many times in your life ... We really want to win that Davis Cup final," he said.
BIGGEST SPORTING EVENT OF THE DECADE
For Obradovic the recipe for success is that everything needs to fall into place on the day.
"First Novak (Djokovic) has to play his matches with great intensity and quality. He has to find that last atom of power and give that needed extra push to the rest of the team," he said.
In Belgrade the Serbian Tennis Federation is in full preparation for the final played here next weekend.
"The importance of this match is immeasurable, without taking into account that it is the biggest success of the Serbian tennis team to date, it will also be the biggest sporting event of the last decade in Belgrade and Serbia," said the federation's president Slobodan Zivojinovic.
The former pro-player and ex-Davis Cup coach said the federation was doing its utmost to ensure the final will go off without a hitch.
"The crowd in Belgrade has shown several times that they know their tennis, that they respect the players but also passionately support their team. This crowd will applaud for an adversary when they deserve it," he said.
Any worries over recent incidents with Serbian football hooligans who last month provoked violent riots in Belgrade during a gay pride march and days later caused a Euro 2012 qualifying match to be called of in Italy, were firmly dismissed by the coach and the federation.
"What has happend (the riots) unfortunately has happened, but such things have never happened in tennis," Zivojinovic insisted.
"The worries expressed (by the French side) are probably part of the mind games."
Coach Obradovic said that security worries were probably bigger when the Serbian team faced off against the United States in March this year.
In Serbia, Washington is unpopular because of its leading role in the 1999 NATO bombing campaign of the country in order to force Serb troops out of Kosovo.
"Still no one even whistled during their anthem," he said.
"And with the French our peoples have had historically friendly ties, I think any incident is out of the question."