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Korda Cruises To Second Challenger Title In Quimper

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2021

Sebastian Korda is making it look too easy.

On Sunday, the 20-year-old American punctuated his Top 100 breakthrough with a second ATP Challenger Tour title in Quimper, France. Dialed in from the first ball, Korda blitzed Slovakia’s Filip Horansky 6-1, 6-1 in a mere 50 minutes to seal his victory at the Open Quimper Bretagne Occidentale.

Projected to enter the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday, it was a week the Florida native will never forget. He not only becomes the youngest American to win multiple Challenger titles since 2017, but will also be the youngest from his country to crack the Top 100 since an 18-year-old Frances Tiafoe five years ago.

“I always knew I had the game to do this,” said Korda. “It’s just been about getting my body right and really having some good people around me that push me every single day. It’s a lot of little things but they are so important to get to where I want to be. It took some pressure off my shoulders when I heard I cracked the Top 100 for sure, but it’s been a good week in Quimper and I’m happy to get my second Challenger title.”

Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Seeded second at an ATP Challenger Tour event for the first time, Korda was forced to embrace the role of favourite throughout the week. After surviving a pair of marathon encounters to open the tournament, including one that saw him save a match point and rally from 1/5 down in the deciding tie-break, Korda found his rhythm.

The 20-year-old’s backhand exploded off the indoor hard courts at the Parc des Expositions, defeating an in-form Benjamin Bonzi in straight sets in Saturday’s semi-final, followed by an efficient championship performance against Horansky. He fired nine aces and converted five of 16 break points to defeat the Slovakian in under an hour.

“The week started out pretty tough,” Korda added. “I played a guy [Tristan Lamasine] who was playing some really good tennis. But I just stayed with him from down 1/5 in the third-set breaker. I pulled through that match and had another three-setter in the second round. I started getting more comfortable and today I just played an incredible match. I just knew what to expect and executed a good gameplan today.”

Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Projected to rise to a career-high No. 88 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Korda has soared more than 150 spots in the past year, cementing himself as one of the top contenders to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals in November. The American has now won 14 of his last 15 matches overall, also including a maiden Challenger title to cap his 2020 campaign in Eckental, Germany, and a first ATP Tour final appearance in Delray Beach to kick off 2021.

Having withdrawn from the upcoming Quimper-2 Challenger with a groin ailment, he will next appear at the ATP Challenger Tour stop in Biella, Italy, beginning 8 February.

Youngest Americans To Win Multiple Challenger Titles (since 2010)

Player Age Second Title
Taylor Fritz 17 years, 11 months 2015 Fairfield
Frances Tiafoe 18 years, 8 months 2016 Stockton
Michael Mmoh 19 years, 6 months 2017 Lexington
Stefan Kozlov 19 years, 8 months 2017 Las Vegas
Ernesto Escobedo 20 years, 3 months 2016 Monterrey
Sebastian Korda 20 years, 6 months 2021 Quimper
Reilly Opelka 20 years, 8 months 2018 Bordeaux
Jack Sock 20 years, 9 months 2013 Winnetka

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ATP Cup Preview: Will Thiem’s Team Emerge Victorious In Group C?

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2021

Third-seeded Austria is the headline act in Group C at the 2021 ATP Cup, which begins on 2 February in Melbourne. The second edition of the event features 12 countries competing across four groups, with the top teams from each group advancing to the knockout semi-finals.

Here is everything you need to know about Group C: who is playing, when they’ll hit the court and how to follow all the action.

Group C: Austria, Italy, France
Austria will attempt to reach the knockout stage at the ATP Cup for the first time, after finishing the inaugural edition of the event in 2020 with a 1-2 record. The third-seeded nation is led by US Open champion and World No. 3 Dominic Thiem, who will be aiming to carry his momentum from 2020 into the team competition. Thiem and fellow singles star Dennis Novak both ended last year’s event with one win from three matches. Doubles players Philipp Oswald and Tristan-Samuel Weissborn will make their tournament debuts this year.

Italy is one of four nations that boasts multiple Top 20 singles players in its line-up. World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini and World No. 17 Fabio Fognini will lead their nation in Group C. Berrettini, who is making his tournament debut this year, has won his most recent ATP Head2Head encounters against No. 1 singles rivals Thiem and Gael Monfils. Fognini finished the inaugural ATP Cup with a 3-2 record, but will hope to improve on his 1-2 singles mark when he faces Novak and Benoit Paire. Simone Bolelli, who partnered Fognini to two doubles wins at last year’s event, and Andrea Vavassori also feature for Italy.

After finishing their group in third position last year, Team France will have a point to prove at this year’s competition. Monfils leads his nation for the second straight year and will need to earn his first ATP Head2Head wins against Thiem (0-6) and Berrettini (0-1) if he is to improve his 1-1 tournament mark. No. 2 singles star Paire came within one point of a perfect 3-0 record at last year’s tournament, before falling in a final-set tie-break to Kevin Anderson. The 31-year-old owns a combined 4-2 record against No. 2 singles rivals Fognini and Novak. France’s roster also features one of the most experienced doubles teams in the competition, but Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin lost all three matches they played at the tournament last year. In a highly competitive group, the seven-time ATP Tour team titlists could decide France’s fate this year.

Meet The Group C Players

Austria Italy France
Dominic Thiem Matteo Berrettini Gael Monfils
Dennis Novak Fabio Fognini Benoit Paire
Philipp Oswald Simone Bolelli Nicolas Mahut
Tristan-Samuel Weissborn Andrea Vavassori Edouard Roger-Vasselin

Three Group C Matches To Watch

Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs Matteo Berrettini (ITA)
In the opening tie in Group C, Thiem and Berrettini will both aim to take a 3-2 lead in their ATP Head2Head rivalry. After Thiem won their first encounter at Roland Garros in 2018, the pair contested a trilogy of hard-court clashes at the end of the 2019 ATP Tour season. Berrettini claimed wins at the Rolex Shanghai Masters and the Nitto ATP Finals and also pushed the Austrian deep into a third set at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. With only the group winners advancing to the semi-finals, an opening victory for Thiem or Berrettini could prove crucial to their nation’s title ambitions.

Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs Benoit Paire (FRA)
In one of the most intriguing matches of the ATP Cup group stage, Fognini and Paire will open the Day 2 clash between Italy and France. Both players have the talent and variety to produce great tennis and they proved that in their last ATP Head2Head meeting in Melbourne four years ago. Paire and Fognini battled for almost three-and-a-half hours in the 2017 Australian Open second round, before the Frenchman clinched a 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win to record his third victory in four matches against Fognini. Paire and Fognini will both be eager to deliver a win and give their nation the opportunity to clinch the tie in the No. 1 singles match between Berrettini and Monfils.

Matteo Berrettini (ITA) vs Gael Monfils (FRA)
Just 24 hours after his match against Thiem, Berrettini will return to John Cain Arena to face Monfils. The pair contested one of the most memorable matches of the 2019 US Open, when Berrettini dug deep to reach his maiden Grand Slam semi-final with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5) victory in just under four hours. The Italian struck 53 winners against Monfils — one of the fastest players on the ATP Tour — in that match and he will need to play with consistent aggression once again to earn another victory against the Frenchman. Monfils will aim to start the season strong for the second straight year when he faces the Italian in his first match of 2021. The 10-time ATP Tour titlist won 16 of his opening 19 matches in 2020, which included title runs in Montpellier and Rotterdam.

Where To Watch ATP Cup
TV Schedule

Group C Schedule 
View full group stage schedule

Tuesday, 2 February: Austria vs Italy
John Cain Arena – starts 10:00am
Dennis Novak vs Fabio Fognini
Followed by singles match
Dominic Thiem vs Matteo Berrettini
Followed by doubles match – Players TBC

Wednesday, 3 February: Italy vs France
John Cain Arena – starts 10:00am
Fabio Fognini vs Benoit Paire
Followed by singles match
Matteo Berrettini vs Gael Monfils
Followed by doubles match – Players TBC

Thursday, 4 February: Austria vs France
John Cain Arena – starts 10:00am
Dennis Novak vs Benoit Paire
Followed by singles match
Dominic Thiem vs Gael Monfils
Followed by doubles match – Players TBC

*Match schedule is subject to change in line with ATP rules and regulations

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Medvedev On Playing For Russia ‘It’s Something Special’

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2021

For the second straight year, Daniil Medvedev will start an ATP Tour season as the No. 1 singles player for Russia at the ATP Cup.

The Moscow native claimed wins in his opening four singles matches at the event in 2020, before falling to Novak Djokovic and Serbia in a thrilling semi-final clash. This year, he will be leading a new-look Russian side in Melbourne. Medvedev will be joined by tournament debutants Andrey Rublev, Aslan Karatsev and player/captain Evgeny Donskoy.

“I played [the ATP Cup] last year. Actually, I was the only one to play it from [this year’s] Team Russia. I only thought about this right now,” said Medvedev. “It’s always cool, these team competitions, because it puts you out of the zone a little bit where you are always focusing on yourself… You want to win it as a team.

“You have a team supporting you, behind you, on the bench. It’s something special. We are playing for the country. It’s not usual [to have] team competitions in tennis. Actually, I think guys will feel it from the first second, especially [when] there [is] going to be a crowd.”

Despite being the only member of the team to have played the inaugural ATP Cup last year, Medvedev does not believe he will need to pass on any words of wisdom to his teammates ahead of their Group D ties against Argentina and Japan. The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion is confident that his countrymen possess the mindset required to succeed in the team competition.

“I think they all know what they have to do. That’s a compliment,” said Medvedev. “Everybody is in [a] great mood, ready to be there for the team. That’s the most important.”

Medvedev enters the ATP Cup on a 10-match winning streak, which includes seven wins against Top 10 opposition. He will be joined by World No. 8 Andrey Rublev, who opened his 2020 campaign with 11 consecutive victories and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.

Rublev, the highest-ranked No. 2 singles player in this year’s competition, will aim to emulate his strong start to 2020 with a successful run in Melbourne. The seven-time ATP Tour titlist, who will face fellow No. 2 singles players Guido Pella and Yoshihito Nishioka in the group stage, is keen to manage his tournament expectations.

“It’s going to be my first experience here. It’s amazing to be part of with such a great guys, especially when Donskoy is the captain. I think we have a great team,” said Rublev. “You always have to be in reality and understand that all the players are playing so good. All the teams are strong. They have all the top players here. It’s going to be really tough.

“In my case, I don’t expect nothing. I just hope we’re going to do our best. In the end, what’s going to happen is going to happen. For me, [my priority] is to give my best, to enjoy, to give everything on the court, and then we’ll see what’s going to happen.”


Medvedev and Rublev will be joined by teammates Karatsev and player/captain Donskoy in Melbourne. Following the resumption of the ATP Tour in August 2020, Karatsev claimed 15 wins from 16 matches during a stunning run on the ATP Challenger Tour. His only loss during that period came at the hands of three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka.

Alongside Canada’s Peter Polansky, Donskoy is one of only two player/captains at this year’s event. The 30-year-old, perhaps best known for his 2017 victory against Roger Federer in Dubai, is prepared for the unique emotions each of his roles will present at the tournament.

“When you [are] playing, of course you’re nervous and you feel these shaky moments. But when you’re trying to support your friends… you’re nervous more because you’re not controlling anything… it’s going to be very tough for me mentally,” said Donskoy.

“Mentally, it will always [be a] full day of nerves for me, which is I think [is] normal. It doesn’t matter if I’m a captain or not, it’s just how it is. You always care about them, care about the match, how it goes. [I will] just try to support them as much as possible.”

With a strong team spirit and two Top 10 singles players on its roster, this new-look Russian team is in a strong position to replicate the run of Medvedev and his 2020 teammates. To reach the semi-finals this year, the task is simple: win Group D. A strong start against Argentina on Day 1 would go a long way to achieving that goal.

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Djokovic Aims To 'Feed Off Crowd's Energy' At ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2021

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.

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Tsitsipas: 'We'll Have A Huge Army Backing Us' At Favourite Event

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas is looking forward to competing at his favourite tournament, the ATP Cup, which begins on Tuesday.

“This honestly is my favourite event,” said Tsitsipas on Sunday. “I feel that [we’ve been] given a very good opportunity… able to compete with all the boys that I’ve known for so long. It unites us, it gives us the opportunity to play for something more special. To feel proud when we’re out on the court playing tennis.”

Greece has been drawn in Group B at the 2021 ATP Cup alongside last year’s finalist Spain and host nation Australia. Captain Apostolos Tsitsipas is working hard in Melbourne to prepare his two sons, World No. 6 Stefanos and Petros Tsitsipas alongside Michail Pervolarakis and Markos Kalovelonis.

Looking ahead to Greece’s first tie against Australia, Stefanos Tsitsipas admitted he has found facing Alex de Minaur, the recent Antalya Open titlist (d. Bublik), a tough proposition.

“I always had big fights against him,” said Tsitsipas, who has an 3-0 ATP Head2Head record against De Minaur. “He has improved a lot since recent years, so he’s coming from a very good run that he had in Antalya a few weeks ago. He looks like he’s playing well. I need to be prepared well for that battle. He’s covering the court really well. His speed is something tremendous. He can run and get balls out of nowhere. That’s what makes him very dangerous.”

But the 23-year-old Tsitsipas knows that the Greek community in Melbourne will turn out in force, cheering just as loud as the supporters of the host nation. Last year, Australia defeated Greece 3-0, including two thrilling singles matches. Nick Kyrgios beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(7), 6-7(3), 7-6(5) and John Millman overcame Pervolarakis 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(1).

“People are going to be cheering our name, and being louder than any other nation, it’s great. Greeks are very proud, and especially the Greeks of Australia. They are twice as proud as back home… There’s an extra reason for me to go out and represent, play well. There’s a lot of support that we’re going to have this week. I’m very, very happy and glad that we have such a huge army backing us up.”

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Nadal: 'We'll Try To Put On A Good Show'

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2021

Rafael Nadal wishes to put on a show at the 12-team ATP Cup as he looks to help Spain go one better than last year’s runner-up finish.

“[We will] try to give to the fans around the world and the fans here in Australia a good show,” said Nadal on Sunday. “For some of the people who are suffering a lot at home, we will try to [provide] good entertainment for them.

“I just [want to] congratulate the country for an amazing effort… to contain the virus here. It’s one of the best examples in the world about how to do the things well in this particular case. We appreciate so much the effort that the country and Tennis Australia have done to allow us to be here and play our sport.”

Spain begins its 2021 ATP Cup quest on Tuesday against host nation Australia and plays Greece in its second Group B tie on Thursday. The top team from each of the four groups will advance to the knock-out semi-finals.

Pepe Vendrell, Spain’s captain, is preparing his squad of Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreno Busta and Marcel Granollers for a hard week, starting with their first tie against Australia.

“It’s going to be a tough battle,” said Vendrell. “We played last year against Australia. They are playing at home and they have the support of the crowd. But we are very excited to be here and to start the season playing against Australia in ATP Cup. In my opinion, Spain is a country that loves to play as a team. We have this culture since we were young… In ATP Cup, it’s a competition by teams. You play for your country. I think it’s a great experience for everyone.”

Nadal got the better of Australian Alex de Minaur 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in a thrilling semi-final encounter last year. “He’s improving every year. I think it’s going to be a tough battle for all of us playing against a great team like Australia… We are a good team, with great players, [so] we have different options. Everybody is ready to play, and to play at a very competitive level.”

Bautista Agut, who was one of the standout performers at the inaugural ATP Cup last year with a perfect 6-0 (12-0 in sets) record, is raring to go. “We’ve been practising a lot in the past months. I think now it’s time to compete. I think everybody did the job well [and] we are ready to start the season playing a nice event – the ATP Cup.”

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De Minaur Ready For Impact At ATP Cup: ‘I'm Very Pumped’

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2021

Alex de Minaur will be hoping that his strong start to the season will continue at the ATP Cup as he reprises his role of Australia’s No. 1 singles player.

The 21-year-old spent the off-season at his training base in Spain after a strong 2020 that saw him guide his country to the quarter-finals at the inaugural ATP Cup, as well as reach the final in Antwerp and quarter-finals at the US Open. He shows no signs of slowing down, and has already claimed his first Top 20 win of the year over David Goffin, No. 16 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, en route to the Antalya Open trophy earlier this month.

“I’m very happy with the job we’ve put in as a team throughout the pre-season and now these past couple weeks,” De Minaur said. “I feel like I’m ready. I’m really looking forward to going out there and stepping out on court and competing in Australia. It’s been a long time coming so I’m very pumped, that’s for sure.”

De Minaur brings plenty of momentum to Australia, having already tasted ATP Tour success in Turkey. He had to undergo two weeks in hotel quarantine with the rest of the international players – an experience De Minaur said has helped him gain a new perspective ahead of the tournament.

“I started off the year really well. Now we’ve had a couple weeks during quarantine to prepare and look at different aspects of my game to kind of tweak, get ready for the Australian summer of tennis,” De Minaur reflected.


De Minaur will share singles duties with John Millman as Australia faces Rafael Nadal’s Spain and Stefanos Tsistipas’ Greece in Group B. Former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt will reprise his role as team captain, with doubles stars John Peers and Luke Saville waiting in the wings. Peers is a two-time Nitto ATP Finals doubles titlist (w/Kontinen), while Saville returns to Melbourne after reaching the final at the Australian Open last year. It will be Saville’s first time representing Australia in a team competition at the professional level.

“This is a massive highlight for me,” said 26-year-old Saville. “I’ve been working very hard for this moment to represent Australia. It’s been 10 years since I played Junior Davis Cup, so… I’m thrilled to be here alongside these guys.

“I’ll be ready when I get the call up to go out and play or even be on the bench. A massive thrill for me to be here. Obviously going to really enjoy the next few days.”

*Match schedule is subject to change in line with ATP rules and regulations

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Shapovalov: ‘It's Events Like This That I Enjoy The Most’

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2021

Denis Shapovalov’s inspired performances at last year’s inaugural ATP Cup helped lift Canada out of the group stage, but he’ll have to dig even deeper to navigate a tricky draw that pits him against Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev for the second year in a row.

Shapovalov, who reprises his role as Canada’s No. 1 singles player, turned heads when he handed Zverev a 70-minute upset last year in the group stage. The 21-year-old won two singles and two doubles matches before narrowly losing in a thriller against Djokovic, pushing him to the brink in Canada’s quarter-final defeat to eventual champion Serbia. 

“I think it’s exciting,” Shapovalov said of his rematch against Djokovic in Group A. “I had a great match against him last year. I feel confident. I feel like I’m playing really good tennis in practice. Of course, it’s the start of the season so there’s really not many expectations. You just kind of go out there and see where your level is at… It’s really fun to be back out here playing, competing, especially with this group of guys. It’s events like this that I enjoy the most.”

Shapovalov will have the perfect opportunity to test his level in his first match of the season – a hotly anticipated rematch against World No. 1 Djokovic awaits as Canada takes the court against Serbia on Day 1.

“It goes to show how strong this event is,” said Canadian captain Peter Polansky. “Last year we played [Serbia] in the quarter-finals, they ended up winning it. Now we’re playing each other again, round-robin, right back at it.

“I feel good about it. We’ve got a very strong team here. This whole event is going to be a lot of high-quality matches. It’s going to be a fun event.”

Shapovalov will be backed by an all-star supporting cast; Canada is one of only four countries anchored by two Top 20 singles players. Big-serving Milos Raonic is making his tournament debut after rising from No. 32 to No. 14 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2020, with Polansky and 29-year-old Steven Diez rounding out the squad.

“I’m happy and eager to be here [and] to play alongside these gentlemen,” Raonic said. “For me, always a little bit of a longer break is a good thing. It ended up being a lot longer, sort of double the off-season that we’re used to. I was able to train without any physical issues. So I’m excited about starting up now.”

With many ATP Cup ties coming down to a deciding doubles match, Canada also benefits from an arsenal full of players who can all pair up in a pinch. Last year at the ATP Cup, Shapovalov partnered with fellow #NextGenATP player Felix Auger-Aliassime to claim two crucial points, while Raonic himself partnered with Auger-Aliassime for two tournaments last year.

For a squad that will have to dig deep to advance out of a stacked Group A, Team Canada comes armed with plenty of weapons as they chase their first ATP Cup trophy.

“I’ll decide [the doubles partnership] before the match. Captain’s choice. Might play myself, might play some of the boys. We’ll see,” Polansky joked. “Twitter will know first.”

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Djokovic Lighting Up Melbourne Ahead Of ATP Cup Defence

  • Posted: Jan 31, 2021

Will Novak Djokovic and Team Serbia retain its ATP Cup trophy next week? The defending champions are certainly putting the hard yards in with just two days to go before the start of the 12-country event.

World No. 1 Djokovic and teammate Filip Krajinovic practised Saturday at Melbourne Park in preparation for their title defence. They will be joined by Serbia’s No. 2 singles player Dusan Lajovic and doubles standout Nikola Cacic.

Team Serbia, led by captain Viktor Troicki, will have to battle through Group A, which also includes Germany and Canada, to reach the knockout semi-finals. Serbia defeated Canada 3-0 in last year’s quarter-finals.

Listen To Troicki’s ATP Tennis Radio Interview:

“It’s a really tough group, maybe the toughest group out there. [There are] really tough players on both Germany and Canada,” Troicki told ATP Tennis Radio. “It’s going to be tough for us, but we have Novak and hopefully Dutzee [Dusan Lajovic] also performs as well as he did last year. I’m really hoping and believing in my team. It’s going to be some great matches.

“There are some great teams. It’s a really tough competition this year as it was last year, but there will be some really fun matches to watch and I’m looking forward to it.”

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