During a recent interview with Tennis.com, USA's Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish said Novak Djokovic's participation in the team event this year proves that playing for Serbia "matters" to the World No. 1.
Jim Courier and John McEnroe also gave their thoughts on the 2021 Davis Cup Finals, stressing that Russia would be a tough team to beat.
Novak Djokovic's Serbia will begin their campaign against co-hosts Austria, who are without Dominic Thiem, on Friday. Germany, who are the third team in the group, will not be able to call on the services of ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev.
In addition, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Matteo Berrettini, Stan Wawrinka, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Denis Shapovalov will also miss the event.
When asked if he was surprised by the relatively weak field, Mardy Fish pointed out that Novak Djokovic's presence was "great" for the event.
He further highlighted how Russia (Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, and Aslan Karatsev) and Italy (Jannik Sinner, Fabio Fognini, Lorenzo Sonego, and Lorenzo Musetti) have strong sides, proving that they place a lot of importance on the Davis Cup.
“Novak has shown that playing for his country matters to him. That’s great for Davis Cup," Mardy Fish said. "I see that Russia and Italy are coming in with pretty heavy teams. Clearly, the format change won’t tear guys away.”
Five-time Davis Cup champion John McEnroe, who previously served as the team captain for the USA, believes it is "hard to bet" against the Russian side given that they boast top players like Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev in their ranks.
“It’s hard to bet against Russia," McEnroe said. "With Medvedev and Rublev they have two great singles stars, and Rublev is also a damned good doubles player. That will be difficult to deal with."
Four-time Slam champion Jim Courier echoed McEnroe's sentiment, pointing out how the Russians triumphed at the ATP Cup, another country-based team event in tennis.
“The singles line-up the Russians can put out makes it hard to pick against them, with Andrey Rublev or Karen Khachanov as well as Medvedev," Jim Courier said. "Look what they did at the ATP Cup (Russia defeated Italy in the most recent final)."
"The fact that you have Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev is fantastic" - Jim Courier
During the interview, Jim Courier said it was "impressive" for the Davis Cup Finals to attract top stars, including Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, despite the exhausting nature of the ATP tour this year.
"This year probably feels longer than others because of all the bubbles the players endured, so it’s really impressive that so many guys are in," Jim Courier said. "The fact that you have Djokovic and Medvedev is fantastic. If you count healthy players, you have plenty of star power. I’m not surprised by that, because there’s such prestige and honor in Davis Cup."
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