Federer to open Switzerland's Davis Cup series against Serbia
NOVI SAD, Serbia (AP)
Roger Federer will open Switzerland's Davis Cup first-round match against Serbia by playing Ilija Bozoljac on Friday, while Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka faces Dusan Lajovic.
Switzerland is an overwhelming favorite against Serbia, last year's finalist and the 2010 Davis Cup champion, which will be without Novak Djokovic and two other of its top players. The second-ranked Djokovic decided to rest after losing to Wawrinka in the Australian Open quarterfinals, while Janko Tipsarevic is nursing a heel injury and Viktor Troicki is serving a 12-month doping suspension for failing to appear at a test. That means Lajovic at No. 102 is Serbia's highest-ranked team member.
Federer was a surprising inclusion in the Swiss team, having played only one first-round match since 2004. He last represented Switzerland in September 2012, helping win a relegation playoff against the Netherlands.
''I always kept a tiny door open, I'm just happy to be here,'' Federer said. ''Spending a week with some of my best friends, playing here was something I was excited about when I left Australia.''
He said he felt in shape after the Australian Open, where he lost in the semifinals against Rafael Nadal.
''We talked about it and the decision was made pretty quickly,'' Federer said. ''I am really excited seeing Stan playing here after his amazing victory in Australia.''
Wawrinka jumped to a career-best ranking at No. 3, and now finds himself in the unusual position of being the highest-ranked Swiss player.
''I just think in Melbourne all the pieces came together. I was really 100 percent playing Novak,'' Wawrinka said. ''When I am there and play my best game, I can beat all those players.''
Serbia's doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic said he was surprised that both Wawrinka and Federer came for the first-round match.
''Naturally, it does not work to our advantage because they are stronger,'' Zimonjic said. ''But it will be a fantastic experience for both our team and the audience.''
The series opens Friday on indoor hard court in Novi Sad. Doubles are Saturday and reverse singles Sunday.
The winner plays Belgium or Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals in April.