Leander Paes believes India have a good chance to beat a depleted Serbia in the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie commencing here Friday while reiterating that the doubles match could well prove decisive. (Paes, Sania to Skip Asian Games)
Paes feels that the absence of World No.1 Novak Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic, a former top-10 player who is recovering from a heel surgery, and former No.12 Viktor Troicki, who docked a 18-month ban for doping violation, provided India a good chance to win the tie and regain their spot in the elite 16-team World Group.
"It would have been different had Djokovic, Tipsarevic and Troicki been there but their absence gives us a good chance. The doubles match will be very important. Nenad Zimonjic, who is ranked No.3 in doubles, is a very experienced player and has had a good season with Daniel Nestor," said Paes here Wednesday.
"Ilija Bozoljac is a wildcard in their team. I have seen some of his matches on YouTube. He and Zimonjic have beaten the Bryan brothers (Bob and Mike, ranked No.1). So, I expect a tough match."
The 41-year old Paes, who will be partnering Rohan Bopanna in doubles, opined that one of the decisive factors would be playing smart tennis, especially on the big points.
"Davis Cup is not about rankings or who has won the Slams. It is a team game but usually it boils down to recognising the big points and playing smart tennis. As for Rohan, he will have full freedom to play his shots and lead because I feel that's when we can get the best out of him," said Paes, who last partnered Bopanna in 2012 and prior to that in 2007. (Paes Slips to Lowest Ranking in 11 Years)
"He is one of the most talented doubles players not to have won a Slam and I am quite excited playing with him. For Bopanna, it will be his home courts and I am sure there will be a packed house cheering for us. We need to ride that wave."
The 34-year-old Bopanna said he was looking forward to playing at home after a long time and expected an "interesting" doubles match Saturday.
"It has been a long time since I played a match here and I am quite excited since the crowd here is very knowledgeable. We will not be taking the Serbian team lightly and we have to play our best tennis. It will be an interesting match," said Bopanna.
On his part, Somdev Devvarman, whose ranking has slipped to 144 from a high of 62 in 2011, admitted that it will be a tough tie although Serbia are without their key players.
"You got to play your best tennis to win the tie and I will do my best," said Devvarman, who has been in good form in recent weeks, having reached the final of a Challenger tournament in Shanghai last week.
Yuki Bhambri, 22, said he was happy to be back in the team after missing the tie against South Korea earlier this year.
"I am glad to be back in the team after missing the Korea tie. I don't know whether the weather will have a say but we all are professionals and will deal with the situations," he said.