Sep 10, 2014: Dusan Lajovic was yet to enter his teens when Pete Sampras stopped playing. But the 24-year-old Serb’s American idol must’ve left an indelible impression on his mind in his six years as World No. 1, enduring enough for the Serb to stubbornly start out on a one-handed backhand, which he ultimately fashioned after Gaston Gaudio’s.
It is this beautiful single hander ripped cross court – minus Sampras’ signature devilish top-spin; not yet – at Bangalore’s KSLTA practice courts that is occupying Indian Davis Cup non-playing captain Anand Amritraj’s mind, now that Novak Djokovic’s withdrawal from the World Group play-off tie is out of the way.
“Even without Djokovic, Serbia’s extremely tough. Dusan might’ve lost in Round 1 at the US Open, but he seems a class player and ranked in 60s, can’t be taken lightly. He has that beautiful backhand,” Amritraj said, after watching the Serb (ranked 61) train for the last two days.
The younger Filip Krajinavic, 22, is the baby of this team, yet ranked higher than both of India’s singles players. A decent forehand and solid game he can boast of, even as he comes to India on the back of a Challenger triumph at San Marino. Not names that should get India staring glumly at an automatic 0-2 scoreline and having to win the remaining 3 matches in the play-off, but nobody in India’s camp is doing a gleeful ‘Yay!’ either post the pull-out, only because it’s Messrs Lajovic and Krajinavic, and not the intimidating Djoker.
Serbia, Davis Cup champs in 2010 and finalists last year against Czech Republic, carry pedigree that would’ve rubbed off on Lajovic who in fact debuted in a live rubber in the 2013 summit clash though he lost both his matches. He also made the quarters at the French this year.