Dennis Novak is determined to keep Austrian fires burning during tough Group F showdowns with Serbia and Germany

His competition record on home soil is highly impressive and should Dennis Novak continue that form at the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals in Innsbruck, Austria could well be in business.

Novak has won matches on behalf of his nation in Graz, Salzburg and St. Polten, prevailing in five of the six singles bouts he has contested in his homeland since his Davis Cup debut in 2016. 

That record is likely to be put to the test in the coming days as Serbia and Germany lie in wait for Austria in Group F. For world No.118 Novak, this means a potential showdown with 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic – the top-ranked player on the planet.

The 28-year-old has lost his previous two meetings with top 10 opposition, while the highest-ranked player he has defeated is world No.17 Fabio Fognini at the ATP Cup earlier this year. Regardless of who he faces, Novak is up for the fight.

“It would be unreal to play in Austria against the best player in the world,” said Novak, whose best Grand Slam performance is reaching the third round at Wimbledon in 2018.

“It would be an amazing experience. We will see if I play against him and, if I do, I will of course try and play my best possible game. He is world No. 1 and the favourite for every match he goes into, but I will enjoy the match and the experience and do my best.”

Austria begin their Finals campaign against Djokovic and Serbia on Friday. They will be without their top-ranked player and 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem, who remains sidelined with a wrist injury having not played competitively since June.

I have a good record at home in Davis Cup and it is not a coincidence. I like to play Davis Cup and I like to play at home.

While acknowledging that Thiem’s absence is a sizeable blow, Novak points to his side’s triumph against Russia in Moscow during their Group I Europe/Africa tussle in 2018 as proof that Austria can thrive without their star turn.

“It would mean a lot to do well at the Finals, especially as we are missing our best player,” said Novak. “We have, however, managed some good results without him in the past.

“The special one was in Moscow when we beat a Russia team with Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev, while we did not have one player close to the top 100. We still won and in Davis Cup, everything is possible. Anything can happen and we’re ready.”

Mention of his back catalogue of results in the tournament – and the solid output he has returned during ties in Austria – did not come as a surprise to Novak, and he insists striding out on a home court is something he relishes.

“I have a good record at home in Davis Cup and it is not a coincidence,” he added. “I like to play Davis Cup and I like to play at home. At tournaments at Vienna and Kitzbuhel, I have also played good matches in front of a home crowd.

“Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, no crowds are allowed here, but it is still a really exciting week and we are really looking forward to it. We have been waiting a long time for the Finals [following last year’s postponement] and, with it being in Austria, it is special for us.”

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