World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is looking forward to feeding off the support of the crowd when defending champion Serbia starts its bid to retain the ATP Cup title on Tuesday.
“I’ve missed seeing crowds in the stands the most,” said Djokovic during Team Serbia’s media conference on Sunday. “At this stage of my career, after playing professional tennis for more than 15 years, that is one of the biggest driving forces or motivations, inspirations. Playing in front of a crowd, feeding off that energy and exchanging great passion and joy that I, and the fans, have for the sport.
“This country has done a great job dealing with this virus. I’m grateful that we have an opportunity to practise, to play and to compete in the sport that we love. We are all excited to be here.”
Serbia’s two Group A ties will be contested on Rod Laver Arena, played host to Djokovic’s eight Australian Open title runs since 2008.
“It does feel like a home for me in Australia, in Melbourne, particularly on Rod Laver [Arena]. That is, by far, [the] most successful tennis court in my career… [There are] too many memories, beautiful memories, to pick one that would stand out. Each year that I come back to the court, it feels even better. The more you win obviously on the court, the more confident you feel coming back to it.”
Viktor Troicki has the captain’s hat on this week, helping to steer Serbia’s bid to retain the ATP Cup trophy. It’s a big honour for the 34-year-old.
“I’m really looking forward to this,” said the former World No. 12. “I hope with my experience, and with my help, we can achieve again the same result this year. I know there’s a lot of tough teams. We have a tough group, but I have a huge trust in my boys, this team. I hope we go all the way also this year.”
Djokovic will be supported on court by Dusan Lajovic and Filip Krajinovic, who are both placed inside the Top 35 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, and Nikola Cacic, who has won two ATP Tour doubles titles.
“It’s going to be great event,” said Lajovic. “We have a tough group [and] tough matches right from the start. There is no room for any kind of mistakes. We’ve got to start strong. Hopefully, we can have a good tournament like last year. I believe that a lot of Serbian fans will come to support us, like last year. It’s going to be I think a great experience to feel that energy again.”
Defending champion Serbia opens its Group A campaign at the 12-team ATP Cup on Tuesday against Canada, followed by its second tie on Thursday against Germany. The top team from each of the four groups will advance to the knock-out semi-finals.