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December 30, 2021

Ivan Sabanov

Dusan Lajovic

Filip Krajinovic

Nikola Cacic

Matej Sabanov

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Team Serbia

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Team Serbia, the champion of the inaugural ATP Cup in 2020. Ivan, is this your first experience as captain of a team? How has it been going so far?

IVAN SABANOV: Yeah, this is my first time as a captain, so I'm very excited. For now, everything goes well. We are preparing every day, and we are looking forward for Saturday.

Q. Dusan, if I could ask you, you were part of the winning team in 2020. What are your memories of the event? Especially how the Serbian fans turned out to support you.

DUSAN LAJOVIC: Yeah, I mean, it was personally, for me, one of the greatest feeling playing in Brisbane and here in Sydney, because Serbian community is huge in both cities, and in Australia overall. I think that I haven't experienced this kind of an atmosphere I think throughout whole career where, you know, you have like 50% of the crowd just for you and the 50 for the other team.

It was amazing experience, especially because we won it. I get goose bumps just thinking about it, especially now, practicing here in the arena and having all of the memories come back.

I think that it was great for us to win the first year. Unfortunately last year was not going as well, especially with the COVID rules and no fans, and it was completely different.

We are coming back on track this year, and, you know, we are here, we are preparing, and we have a good team. We are all giving our best in the past days. I'm looking forward to compete with these guys together by my side.

Q. After playing No. 2 singles in the past, are you excited to play No. 1? How different will that be?

DUSAN LAJOVIC: Yeah, well, I mean, obviously there are some maybe tactical differences and pressure-wise, but at the end of the day, you've got to go out there, play your match, and try to win.

You know, Filip will play No. 2 and he will start the matches, which is always I think maybe a little bit trickier because you're opening up and playing that first tie.

But, you know, I think we are both feeling great and we are both in good shape right now, and we just have to go out and fight till the end.

Q. Filip, do you like the prospect of going out and getting the first point for your team?

FILIP KRAJINOVIC: Yeah, it's a good challenge. I mean, it's never easy to open the match, but I'm very excited, I'm ready for that. I knew that I will play first match.

I'm practicing on that time and getting ready, giving my best. I'm very excited. As Dusan say, we are already playing well so far, so we have a good team. I'm hoping that we're gonna do well here.

Q. Nikola as a doubles player, do you like the format of ATP Cup where doubles can clinch it for the team?

NIKOLA CACIC: Yeah, it's very important doubles here on ATP Cup, also in the new system Davis Cup, as well, when it's two singles and then one doubles. So we are here also practicing some doubles that could be possible that doubles deciding the winner.

So we are ready for that. We have a few good players here. Matej is now broke the top 100, and also Dusan can play good doubles, and Filip, I play with him. We are looking forward for our first match.

Q. Matej, just your excitement about being here, part of this tournament. Your thoughts on that.

MATEJ SABANOV: Yeah, I'm very excited, of course. Honored, I'm also very honored to be in this team and to -- I will do my best to help the team, to win some matches.

I think we can do some good things here.

Q. Dusan, can I ask you, when did you find out that you'd be playing No. 1? When did Novak let you know he wouldn't be out here? How is it to not have the best player in the world playing with you guys?

DUSAN LAJOVIC: Yeah, just a couple of minutes ago -- I'm joking (smiling). We knew a day and a half ago or something like that. I think we were all waiting for that last-minute decision.

You know, it's never the same when you have No. 1 in your team and you don't have it. It's a big difference. Obviously, you know, when Novak is in the team, the expectations get much higher. Then everybody is put in the spotlight on Novak, of course, and then trying to push the whole team.

Right now maybe we are on the sideline a little bit, and it could be good for us, it could be bad, we'll see. Definitely different, but we've got to see what happens after the tournament and how it goes.

Unfortunately he's not able to come here, but, you know, he was I think hoping, same as we did, that somehow he will be here. Unfortunately he's not, and we've got to deal with it.

Q. Did he speak to you guys personally, or did he just notify the ATP? Do you think he will be here after this for the Australian Open?

DUSAN LAJOVIC: No, I think he kept in touch with all of us, and it was, as I said, last-minute decision. Australian Open is still uncertain for us. I don't know the information, so I think that will come in the next couple of days or whenever is the deadline or whatever it is. We don't know right now. Hopefully he will be there, and be able to play the Grand Slam.

Q. Dusan, my question is what is your opinion about Chile, about Garin, do you know him well?

DUSAN LAJOVIC: Yeah, I have played my first match against Garin in 2013 in Vina del Mar, when he was still a junior. He beat me back then and it was a big surprise, but already then I saw that he's going to be a good player.

Obviously all the teams here are strong teams. Doesn't matter on the rankings of the players. But, you know, when you're playing in a team competition and you're playing for your country, it's a different atmosphere. It's overall a different sport.

None of the teams are easy. Chile, we played them the year we won, but with Nicolas Jarry and Cristian Garin. We already knew we passed the groups when we played them, so it was not really decisive match.

This year is going to be different. It's going to very much depend on all the matches. I know that he had some issues in the end of the season, and he looks recovered. So if he's playing, for sure he's fit. When he's fit, it's a tough opponent. Any of the players that are top 10, top 20, it's not enough just to play good. You need to play good throughout two or three hours.

It's for sure the team that is out there, I would say, in our group, all the teams have chance to pass the group.

Q. Dusan, another one on Novak. We obviously know he has withdrawn. Are you able to tell us the reason he gave for not playing?

DUSAN LAJOVIC: No, I don't know the official reason. Maybe the ATP knows, or I don't know.

Q. So that's not something you discussed with him whatsoever? He didn't share that with you?

DUSAN LAJOVIC: No, he just said that he's not coming to the ATP and trying to get to Australian Open.

Q. He said to you that he was trying to get to the Australian Open?

DUSAN LAJOVIC: I mean, the decision, he said, I'm not coming, guys, to the ATP Cup. We'll see about the Australian Open. He didn't specify if he's coming or not but that he's waiting for decision.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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