Novak Djokovic has admitted that Serbia’s Davis Cup tie against Great Britain is “really open” after preparing by playing doubles at the Rolex Paris Masters. The world No 1 previously named Dan Evans as a big threat to his team’s chances but the Brit has since withdrawn injured. Djokovic is still concerned about his nation’s fate in the doubles, however, as he confessed that Britain were the “strong favourites” in the final match and shared his hopes to get the job done in singles.
Djokovic made a winning return in Paris-Bercy as he linked up with Miomir Kecmanovic on the doubles court, defeating alternates Gonzalo Escobar and Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-4 6-2. The 24-time Grand Slam champion drew attention when he signed up to the doubles draw but he has since admitted that the move was done purely with the Davis Cup in mind as Serbia looks to find a strong pairing.
“Yes it is,” Djokovic said in Paris when asked whether his partnership with Kecmanovic was formed with the team event in mind. “Actually it’s the main reason why we are playing here is trying to prepare for Davis Cup and have another I guess doubles pair, doubles combination that we can rely on.”
And the 36-year-old knew that having a strong doubles team would be of extra importance in Serbia’s upcoming Davis Cup quarter-final tie against Britain, as the GB team currently boasts current doubles world No 3 Neal Skupski. Djokovic continued: “Obviously not ideal for the format of the Davis Cup that we have nowadays where it’s really decisive.
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“If you split wins after singles, doubles decides and we play Great Britain that obviously has had for decades the best doubles players in the world. So it’s going to be very tough and that’s why we’re trying to get as much of the doubles match play as we possibly can.”
While both men had previously partnered with fellow Serb Nikola Cacic, Tuesday marked the first time that Djokovic and Kecmanovic joined forced on the doubles court. “The first match I think went really, really well and the more we play, the more comfortable we will feel as a double pair,” the world No 1 said after the duo dropped just six games en route to the second round.
With Djokovic keeping one eye on Serbia’s tie against Britain, he was well aware that Evans was forced to pull out with a calf injury he picked up last week in Vienna. The 36-year-old previously admitted that the world No 37 would be a threat in both singles and doubles but even with his rival on the sidelines, Djokovic was feeling the heat when it came to winning two of the three rubbers.
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“I mean, I think every match is pretty open to be honest, even without Evans,” Djokovic said. “With Andy, Jack Draper and Norrie, three very good singles players that can also play very good doubles. It’s really open.”
While the world No 1 knew that the two singles matches were on more level terms, he feared that it was Britain who had a stronger side if the tie came down to the decisive doubles rubber. Djokovic added: “I would say maybe 50/50 both teams in singles and probably they are strong favourites in doubles. For us, we’re hoping to win the tie after singles matches but let’s see what happens.”
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