With Novak Djokovic, India vs Serbia would have essentially been a three-match rubber with the hosts having to win all three of them to make it to the World Group of the Davis Cup.
Where to Watch Live
Get the doubles report HERE
Get the Somdev vs Krajinovic report HERE
Get the Bhambri vs Lajovic report HERE
The first match of the Davis Cup tie is scheduled to begin at the KSLTA Courts in Bangalore at 3 pm with live coverage in India on DD Sports. Viewers around the world can catch all the action via live streaming online HERE.
Without Djokovic, though, and also in the absence of Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki, the India vs Serbia World Group playoff suddenly wears a more maybe-India-can-win-this-at-home-after-all look.
With Leander Paes joining the India Davis Cup team after a bit of a hiatus, a massive amount of experience has been added, and that experience, at the end of the day, could prove to be the difference, with the home side, despite playing in Bangalore, facing an uphill battle against higher-ranked opponents.
"I have always believed Davis Cup is a team sport, it is not about individuals," Paes said when asked about the task ahead for the Indians against the fancied Serbians. "If we can pull together as a team, and win the big points – about five, or six of them – then that could be the difference between victory and defeat."
India's plan will be to wear down their opponents under the higher altitude of Bangalore, make the Serbia players sweat for every point and push the game as long as possible, even if the first couple of ties are lost. Because, as has been found out on a few occasions in the past, the European sides do tend to struggle in the heat in the final day – Sunday – of the Davis Cup.
However, the fact that, the second singles on both days, especially, will be played under lights might balance it all out. "Since we are playing in the evening, I'm not sure the weather is going to come into play," said Somdev Devvarman, who takes to court in the second match on Friday. "All of us are professional athletes so we're all going to be preparing for some long, tough matches."
Djokovic's absence will be felt by Serbia, but in Dusan Lajovic and Filip Karjinovic they have two up and coming tennis players with enough weapons to see off the likes of Somdev and Yuki on their day. Serbia also have their own version of Leander Paes in Nenad Zimonjic, the potent doubles player who has won multiple Grand Slam titles.
The opening day will be absolutely crucial for India, with at least a 1-1 scoreline needed heading into the doubles rubber on Saturday – where Paes and local boy Rohan Bopanna will play Zimonjic and Ilija Bozljac. While the Indian duo have not played together too much in the past, both of them have the talent and experience to be able to see off the challenge from the Serbians, even with Zimonjic in the lineup.
So, it is all down to Yuki Bhambri, who will open the Davis Cup tie against the talented Lajovic in the opening match of the tie, and Somdev to give India that momentum they so need to pull off a stunning victory.
Schedule for Friday: Yuki Bhambri (India) vs Dusan Lajovic (Serbia) at 3 pm.
Somdev Devvarman (India) vs Filip Krajinovic (Serbia) (not before 6.30 pm).