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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Tennis

Djokovic brings the fear factor: Somdev
Deepti Patwardhan , Hindustan Times
Mumbai, April 10, 2014
First Published: 01:03 IST(10/4/2014)
Last Updated: 01:05 IST(10/4/2014)

Top seeds and 2013 finalists Serbia may boast of a wealth of tennis talent, but India's number one player Somdev Devvarman believes the team will lose the fear factor if Novak Djokovic does not turn up for the Davis Cup World Group playoff tie in September.

"Novak's decision to play or skip the tie will have a huge impact," Devvarman told HT on Wednesday. "If he doesn't play, mentally we will always believe that we can squeeze out a win even though we will still be the underdogs. The Serbians are a quality team."

Twelve-time Grand Slam champion and doubles veteran, Mahesh Bhupathi, when posed with the question, said, "We hope he doesn't (play)."

"Ideally for us if Novak doesn't show up I think life could become easier."

Though it may hamper the team's chances of qualifying for the 16-team World Group, Devvarman, believes the presence of players like him in home ties could go a long way in raising the game's profile in India.

"For Indian tennis fans, it will be huge to watch a player like Novak Djokovic in action," said the 29-year-old.

"He is already one of the all-time greats at 25, so to have a player like him in Davis Cup would definitely pack the stands and make it a great atmosphere for tennis."

Devvarman, now ranked 88 in the world, was the only Indian player to win a rubber during India's 1-4 loss to Serbia in Novi Sad in March 2011, when the teams last met. Once again proving that rankings don't count for much in Davis Cup, as he defeated Janko Tipsarevic 7-5, 7-5, 7-6 (3).

"The last tie was extremely exciting although the score was 4-1," he recalled.

"I remember Rohan (Bopanna) playing an incredible five-setter against (Viktor) Troicki who was top 20 at the time, and Rohan had pretty much stopped playing singles on tour by then. Even the doubles, which me and Rohan lost, was an extremely close four-set encounter.

"Playing at home this time will be a big bonus for sure. Hopefully the boys will be fired up and find some extra motivation to play their best tennis."


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