Djokovic the exception as he clocks in for national duty
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic will be a notable exception this week after clocking on for Davis Cup duty for Serbia when a host of other big names are resting up after their Australian Open exertions.
World number two Djokovic is the only member of the top 10 in action over the weekend's ties although he perhaps needs some sharpening after a shock second-round loss to Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin in Melbourne left him with more time on his hands at the start of the season that he was anticipating.
Which is good news for Serbia as they host a young Russian side in a World Group first round tie in Nis.
"Every year we are hoping to repeat what we did in 2010," Djokovic, whose presence packed out the stadium in practice on Wednesday, told the ITF's website.
"But the Russians have a young and motivated team, therefore we have to take them very seriously," added the 12-times grand slam champion who opens against Daniil Medvedev.
While Serbia will benefit from Djokovic's participation, Canada and Britain will both be without their weapons of choice when they meet in Ottawa. Britain, 2015 champions, are without world number one Andy Murray and Canada are missing Milos Raonic.
Understandably, considering his magical exploits in winning an 18th grand slam title in Australia at the age of 35, Roger Federer will not feature for Switzerland in the U.S. while the visitors are also without Stan Wawrinka.
The theme continues in Buenos Aires where champions Argentina take on Italy without talisman Juan Martin del Potro while in Japan the hosts are without Kei Nishikori against a French side lacking Gael Monfils and Joe-Wilfried Tsonga.
Croatia, runners-up last year, are hosting Spain without Marin Cilic and will do well to hold a Spain side that, despite not having Rafael Nadal, still boasts the likes of Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta.
Three-times champions Germany will fancy their chances of a long run having fallen at the first round stage for the past two years, especially with Alexander Zverev and his brother Mischa, Murray's Australian Open conqueror, in the side.
It is the first time Germany have ever had siblings playing in the same tie and Alexander, 19, said it is a special moment.
"He almost had no ranking in 2015 and now for us to both be playing for our country is a very proud day," the supremely talented world number 22 said after the draw in Frankfurt which pitched him against Belgium's rookie Arthur de Greef.
While Djokovic will be keen to banish bitter Australian Open memories, so too will Nick Kyrgios who exited his home grand slam to boos from the crowd ringing in his ears after losing a five-setter from two sets up to Andreas Seppi in round two.
World number 15 Kyrgios lines up for Australia against the Czech Republic in Melbourne where he will hope for a warmer reception.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)