Serbia captain Nenad Zimonjic and France’s Sebastien Grosjean expect a tough time in Group A, with Japan’s Satoshi Iwabuchi hoping his depleted side can spring an upset

Serbia captain Nenad Zimonjic warned his players that any slip-up against Group A rivals France and Japan could prove costly in the new Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals format. 

“When you play best of three sets and only three matches, one little mistake, one loss of concentration can decide a match,” said Zimonjic, a member of Serbia’s 2010 title-winning side. “All the players that are here are extremely good players – some are ranked higher, some not, but you cannot underestimate anybody.”

Zimonjic was optimistic on the health of world No.2 Novak Djokovic, who arrived at Caja Mágica on Sunday for his first practice session with the team, before giving his take on the atmosphere at Caja Mágica ahead of the 18-nation competition.

“I’ve been in tennis all my life so it’s interesting to be part of something that’s unique,” he added. “It feels like it’s maybe at the Olympic Games, where we see each other at the tennis site, see all the jerseys, everybody is there.”

France’s Sebastian Grosjean has the added incentive of aiming to emulate his Fed Cup counterpart Julien Benneteau, whose side beat Australia in Perth to win the nation’s third Fed Cup title a week ago.

“It was an amazing experience for him, and a big challenge to win in Australia against [a team with] world No.1 Ashleigh Barty,” said Grosjean, who has passed on his congratulations to the team. As for his own side’s prospects in Madrid, he will know better when his squad is fully assembled on Monday.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have all the players, and we still have two players in London,” Grosjean said. “Everything since we were here – good preparation, great facilities for the guys to practice, and we’re ready to start.

“It’s a tough group. Serbia is a great team and they always do well in Davis Cup, when you have a team with Novak and all those players who did well all year long. It’s the same with Japan – it’s a lot of good players close to each other. Unfortunately for them Kei [Nishikori] had to withdraw.

“With the new format, everything counts – not only the victory but also the sets, so you have to play everything 100 per cent.”

Japan captain Satoshi Iwabuchi knows his side is in a tough group, particularly without Kei Nishikori in his side, but has been impressed with his players’ form in 2019.

“For us against two former Davis Cup champions, it’s going to be very tough of course, but our players are in good condition and doing very well this season. So we still have confidence, and anything can happen in Davis Cup.”

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