The presence of world No.1 Novak Djokovic definitely tilts the balance in favour of Serbia in their Davis Cup World Group playoff against India to be played on September 12-14, according to the home team's coach Zeeshan Ali.
"Djokovic playing is obviously a huge boost for Serbia but more importantly it is great for tennis. His presence tilts the balance in Serbia's favour but we will put up a fight. I want the players to enjoy the experience of being in Djokovic's presence and hopefully we will have some good results next weekend," former Davis Cupper Zeeshan Ali said on Thursday.
Ali added that the ability to play at a higher level would be critical from India's perspective. "Somdev (Devvarman) has played the likes of Federer and Nadal but for someone like Yuki Bhambri, it could be a tough proposition as he has not played players at such high level. Hence, it is important to take advantage of this exposure," Ali said while reflecting on his own experience of playing the mighty United States in 1994.
"Then, the US team had Jim Courier, Todd Martin and Patrick McEnroe and it was a great experience for us although we lost 0-5," said 44-year-old, referring to the first round tie played on grass in New Delhi. When asked about the newly-laid Rebound Ace court, Zeeshan Ali admitted that the surface was on the slower side but reckoned that it will be "up to speed" in time for next weekend's tie.
"The court is a bit slow at the moment but with usage it should get up to speed by next weekend," said Ali. On India's chances, the coach felt that the city's altitude of 3,000 feet above Mean Sea Level could be a factor as it would take a while to get used to the conditions. (Also read: Somdev opts out of Asian Games)
"The Serbs might not get much time to get used to the conditions, though being professionals, they will no doubt adjust, especially the likes of Djokovic," Zeeshan Ali pointed out.
The Serbian team is expected to reach the city September 10 while the Indian contingent of Somdev Devvarman, Yuki Bhambri, Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Maineni will assemble on September 8, according to Karnataka Lawn Tennis Association secretary Sunder Raju. Meanwhile, Zeeshan Ali said, two young players - Ramkumar Ramanathan and Jeevan Nedunchezhian - have been invited to train with the Indian squad.